July 06. 2020 | By Wayne Jessup
Photos by Katy Weaver

Portland’s Phosphene is back with their second full-length Lotus Eaters, due out tomorrow as supplication for all you old schoolers who miss the ‘Tuesday New Release Day’ thing. We’ve alluded to the record’s long gestation period and the personal upheaval surrounding the release, and that has only become more marked in the strange new world that we find ourselves in. Phosphene, (Rachel FrankelMatt Hemmerich, and Kevin Kaw), unleashed their self-titled debut in 2014, following up two years later with the Breaker EP. 

We’ve been tracking the unveiling of the LP, with first single “Cocoon” landing in a January TOTW, followed by a March premiere of second single “Spiral”, and a spotlight on third single “Incandescent Plumes” in our May Bandcamp celebration. Oregon Public Broadcasting completes the circle with their 6/30 premiere of the fourth single “The Wave”. Now we can finally revel in the whole.

If one had to pick an overarching theme out of the air, it would go something like: ‘With all that’s come down this year alone, can we even believe in hope as a concept anymore?’ Lotus Eaters starts on a strong note with “Incinerate”, counterbalancing the dark vision with a tune that musically expresses the sheer joy of being back in the saddle.

The rest of the LP more than measures up with what we’ve heard so far, with “Frames” showcasing a deepening of their sound. “Seven Ways” positively melts the heart, one of Rachel Frankel’s finest compositions, and repeated listens reveal the sophistication of Matt Hemmerich’s drum chops. “Skyscraper Shade” takes it out as they came in, fully in control and on point, making Lotus Eaters Phosphene’s most assured work to date.

Matt Hemmerich refers to “The Wave” as “the poppiest tune on Lotus Eaters, that is also about the uprooting we experienced in the Bay Area due to the tech boom and gentrification.” He also notes: “With this record, we’re making a permanent pledge. 25% of proceeds from every album sale will go towards Black United Fund of Oregon and the National Bail Fund Network.”

On a closing note, since we’re all starved for live performance these days, here’s a flashback to two years ago. It’s Phosphene in duo mode on the intimate front porch of Sophia’s Thai Kitchen in Davis, CA, essaying “The Body”, which at that point went under the working title of “PDA”.

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