On Tuesday, jamtronica veterans Lotus released new EP Citrus. Recorded at Spice Hound Sound during the same sessions that produced 2020’s energizing Free Swim, the seven-track Citrus presents a notably looser, funkier set. Drawing from a deep well of influences—from space-rock to West African rhythms to lush, dreamy grooves—Lotus presents plenty of pleasant musical paths to stroll down with the new offering.
In honor of the release of Citrus, Lotus guitarist/keyboardist Luke Miller and bassist/producer Jesse Miller have provided a track-by-track breakdown of the EP, giving fans an exclusive peek behind the curtain. Press play below (or stream via the platform of your choice here) and scroll down for Luke’s track-by-track walkthrough.
Lotus – Citrus – Full EP
1. “Journey to Saturn“
Luke Miller: “Journey to Saturn” is a mid-tempo psychedelic rock song with hints of Pink Floyd and Boards of Canada. The main groove is built around a chugging synth pattern backed by grand piano, cosmic guitar. Then the mechanics of this musical spaceship start to crank, unfurling the solar sail through 9 chords changes that slyly return to the main groove but transposed up a step. As the galactic journey shifts into lower gear, the guitar solo soars over the spacious groove.
Writing this song I wanted to combine vintage synth sounds with the space-rock sounds of the ’60s and ’70s. The vibe walks a tightrope between melancholy and blossoming optimism. Learning to play the keyboard parts simultaneously was challenging with a hand-stretching ostinato and a melody that jumps over two octaves.
During the recording, I thought the drums and bassline really locked in to form a rock-solid base for the guitar to let loose over.
Luke Miller: “Citrus” takes a trip to the tropics with sounds of the Kora (stringed West African instrument) and Balafon (West African marimba). The bass adds a polyrhythm underneath and the guitar plays a singing melody on top of this humid groove. Layers of sounds continue to add with flute, airy pads, and crisp percussion. The song picks up steam as the bass grabs the reigns and starts walking around the fretboard with determined drive.
Mid-song, the instruments pause before beginning a full run. The time signature shifts into a 12/8 triplet-based groove and the guitar unleashes peals of angular riffs while the percussion adds a thick bed of earthy ripples.
Writing this song I had created the opening parts with the triplet bass line. Jesse [Miller] took that idea and came up with transitioning into the 12/8 section. I think this song plays with the underlying musical connections between jazz, African sounds, and modern electronica.
3. “Phantom Tooth”
Jesse Miller: “Phantom Tooth” is one of the rare songs I wrote by starting with the bass line. I wanted something funky that covered the full length of the fretboard in the spirit of some of the great funk bass lines like Sly‘s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” or Herbie‘s “Hang Up Your Hang Ups”. We kept a classic jazz-funk sound by using Wurlitzer, Clavinet, and organ for the keyboards. Mike Rempel played a scorching solo over the bridge that gives the track an epic feel even though it clocks in under 4 minutes.
4. “Year of the Jaguar”
Luke Miller: For this composition, I wanted to capture the sound of prowling through the jungle where dark shadows and beams of light continue to shift and interlock. A head-nodding beat from the drums and a swaggering guitar riff stalk the prey. The tune pounces in attack mode during the chorus with the synth and guitar menacing down.
Then in the middle, the bass steps up with funky bounce that keeps circling around a changing root note like a confident boxer. The synth plays watery chords and the guitar prances over the chord changes with feline agility.
Luke Miller: Like the broad-winged bird, this song soars in majestic fashion. Grand piano arpeggios create currents of air for the guitar to fly on. The drums and bass create a big pocket and a mellotron choir pillows around it. Playing delicately in the middle during an improvisatory stretch the piano reflects beams of sunlight until the guitar catches another updraft to take the song back to the final flight.
6. “Fields of Mint”
Luke Miller: I wanted to create a sense of blissful nostalgia with this one. Rolled vibraphone chords with a tight drum groove and a thick bass riff set the stage for a fleet guitar melody. The bridge ushers in a faster-harmonized riff between the guitar and keyboard while the drums and percussion create a woody environment with stick clicks.
7. “Drifting Away From Shore”
Luke Miller: There is a feeling on a hot summer day when you are floating on the water where time seems to stop and the infinity of the sky puts you into a hypnotic state. To capture that feeling in a song we used a limited palette of sounds—Wurlitzer piano, weathered sounding drums, warm bass, tambourine, congas, and hefty helpings of reverb. Float away on the waves.