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Lotic, the project of Berlin via Houston producer J’Kerian Morgan, has been considered an integral part of the queer movement of producers creating explosive, avant-garde music as a way of expressing unconventional identities. But Morgan’s catalogue has always been farther out there. While some of their contemporaries included sounds of glass shattering and sampled lawn mowers, Lotic went ahead and used “a man howling in distress”. Their last project was aptly titled Agitations. Fast-forward three years however, and Lotic appears to be placing more emphasis on subtlety and nuance over shock value. On their debut album Power (make note of the gender neutral pronouns) Morgan sounds more at peace than ever.

They’re also expanding their range – drawing influence from ambient and industrial music, and fusing these genres into Morgan’s own style of club music. On “Nerve”, Morgan raps about bitches trying to “curve” them in the club. “Heart” spins an interrupted garage beat into bravado that resembles Beyonce’s empowerment anthem “Flawless***”. However, this album is so much more than uniquely crafted bangers. Power pushes you to find beauty in the ugly, and embrace who you are no matter how hard that might be. “Resilience” interpolates glowing bells with two heavily distorted drum patterns. “Distribution of Care”, my personal favorite on this record, prances creepily into heavily processed tribal drums. On songs like this, beauty and warmth coexist with aggression and frustration. This is best shown on the title track “Power”, which switches from glowing plinks to a heavily distorted breakbeat a third of the way through. By combining the two, Lotic shows how it is possible to be both a strong person and a vulnerable person.

Albums like these are important in this political climate. It’s not just North America's Trumpism and recent reelection of the New Democratic Party here in Toronto. Many European countries are seeing a rise in conservatism, as more right-leaning politicians saw brexit and Trump’s confounding win as a sign that bigotry is more accepted than ever. While Power might not be political in nature, it’s still an album where a genderqueer person of color proclaims they are comfortable with who they are. Every part of this album is Lotic fully realized, and Power is one of the most liberated albums you’ll hear this year.

Grade: B


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