Sitting at the wobbly intersection of '80s new wave and modern chillwave, Arkansas plunderphonics outfit PZA creates an absorbing and nostalgic sound that often feels like Ultravox jamming out with Neon Indian. The synths rumble and shimmer in the glare from the marquee of an all-night disco, shivering and coiling around your subconscious in undulating waves. Their work recalls the dancefloor catharses that spread out across the discography of renowned electronic-pop label Italians Do It Better. PZA isn't bogged down by weighted influence though -- these sounds simply serve as the springboard for a much larger and grandiose synth perspective. The horizon seems to sparkle and wink as we approach, keeping us guessing as to our heading and destination.
Cody Troglin, the man behind PZA, is a voracious creator, having already released 4 albums (as of my writing) this year. His latest, "Lotus Inc.," continues his exploration of elastic synths and mobile soundscapes, taking him from the neon glow of the city to the star-streaked glow of its surrounding rurality. Everything is so brightly lit that it takes a moment for your eyes and ears to adjust, but in the midst of this sensory overload, Troglin finds a way to embrace both the majesty of his synth-based creativity and a more emotional intimacy that lingers of the periphery of these bombastic sounds. From the appropriately named opener, "Welcome," to its concluding chapter, "Lotus Inc.," this collection revels in the glorious expansiveness of a constantly shifting fluorescent aesthetic.
And while the onslaught can be a bit much at times, there never comes a time when you ever think of looking away. There's far too much to take in and discover to ever be complacent in your appreciation. Songs like "Into Your Blue Eyes" and "Do You Miss Me" evoke the cavernous feelings and experiences that sat astride so much of new wave's catalog but without the artificiality that often came along for the ride. Beats often hit with the force of a small nuclear explosion, effortlessly tearing away our defenses and exposing the raw nerve underneath. There are smaller and more confidential moments here, however, such as the measured revelations on "Sundress," a song that holds back as much as it reveals, opting for a rhythmic mystery rather than overt explanation.
"Lotus Inc." is a voluminous echo chamber of synth atmospheres and electronic pop discovery, an exercise in reshaping our expectations of the viability of gargantuan musical synthetics. And while there are moments when the excess of the music's roar threatens to derail the surprisingly agile arrangements, Troglin never loses sight of where the music is heading -- he's always one step ahead of the rush of sound, quickly and purposefully laying out the path for us to follow. Totally compelling and more than a little hypnotic in the way it adapts these virulent synths as emotional analogs, this album is vast, deeply affecting and completely welcoming. So lay back, listen and attend to the spectacular movements of its melodic synthesis.