In case you hadn’t gotten the memo already, following his awesome 2021 full-length debut Lovers In Wartime (which was both reviewed by yours truly and made the number one spot in my Shaman top ten of that year), Heath Rave aka Lotus Thrones, has been following it up with a series of seasonally themed EP’s. Starting with Autumnal (Autumn), then Hibernal (Winter), Vernal (Spring), and now Solaris which has to be the Summer as it pertains to the sun.
While the record sees Rave playing the vast majority of the instruments (drums, synths, noise, guitars), Bruce Lamont (Yakuza) is once again enlisted to provide saxophone. The artwork as per tradition is by Toby Verhines or Shadow Cartography as he’s best known on Instagram and distinctly evokes the sun giving more of a warm feeling that usually is associative of the season.
One wonders whether a deeper meaning can be drawn from the title Solaris too, such as potentially referencing the Andrei Tarkovsky film of the same name (no, not the lame George Clooney remake). In brief, the film centres around Psychologist Kris Kelvin who is sent to investigate the strange goings on onboard the Solaris space station which has caused everything to fall into disarray. A sense of loss and discombobulation is omnipresent in the film, which may be an indication of the mood to be found on the record.
Solaris is comprised of a mere three tracks this time round, although at least two of these are considerably lengthy at over nine minutes each. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, ‘Aphelion in astronomy, is the point in the orbit of a planet, comet, or other body most distant from the Sun’. As I’m writing the review, the rain is pounding away outside and there is a chill in the air (despite the heating being on), this feels like an entirely appropriate accompaniment to the mournful sax that streams and dominates throughout the track. Rave‘s instrumentation provides a suitably minimalistic backdrop, lightly played drums and ambient atmospherics make for a fantastically mournful piece. Imagine John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme being given a post-punk/post-metal modern day makeover.
a wonderfully cathartic piece…
Wikipedia defines Meridian as ‘the great circle passing through the celestial poles, as well as the zenith and nadir of an observer’s location’. The track sees almost a reversal of Aphelion with Lamont taking more of a backseat this time round and Rave taking centre stage, drums are more prominent and harder hitting and a guitar is introduced. The oppressive sense of hopelessness is all consuming and continuous as with the opening number and never really dissipates at any point.
As is tradition with Rave‘s output, Solaris features a cover and this time it’s Ministry’s The Fall from the highly underrated Filth Pig album that gets the Lotus Thrones treatment. Whereas the original was akin to a sludge metal version of Killing Joke, Rave‘s vocals and Lamont‘s Middle Eastern toned sax retains the darkness but gives the track more of an emotive downbeat vibe, as opposed to the pent-up frustration and despair of the original. Kudos once more goes to Rave for choosing a deeper cut from an album/musician he admires, and this concludes the release on an overall more than satisfying note.
Despite the title’s intonations, there is nothing summery about Solaris, it’s hardly a release which you would play if you were with a significant other and all loved up. As with Kris Kelvin the protagonist in the aforementioned film Solaris, this is an EP for the broken hearted and jaded, a wonderfully cathartic piece.
Scribed by: Reza Mills