Lotto: Summer

Polish trio of guitar, bass and drums offers six darkly atmospheric improvisations carrying something of the intimacy of chamber jazz


Berlin-Warsaw based Lotto revel in ambiguity, and if you were to listen to each of their last three releases you might struggle to believe that they’re the work of the same trio. Where 2021’s Hours After held onto the threads of the group’s noisier post-industrial improv roots, the recent Axolotl was an apocalyptic electronic patchwork which scarcely featured the musicians playing their usual instruments. Summer is different again, the six darkly atmospheric improvisations carrying something of the intimacy of chamber jazz.

It was recorded over two swelteringly hot days in a large reverberant theatre, and the peculiar acoustics of the room force the musicians to make very deliberate choices about the weight and placement of each note. The palette is predominantly acoustic, and the cumulative effect is rather like staring at a desolate de Chirico townscape, the trio’s bold architectural forms shrouded with a sense of darkness, mystery and foreboding.

Each piece tends to start with a short repeating pattern which is developed so slowly that it appears superficially static. The strangely beautiful Melody is a little more distinctive than the rest, anchored by Majkowski’s hypnotic bass drone and adorned with spine tingling percussive clatter. Heater and Situation are closely related and reminded me of the de-tuned splendour of Fred Frith on Naked City’s Absinthe. Oranges floats gracefully to nowhere in particular and Asking carries shades of early Velvet Underground, while the closing Someone ties a number of thematic strands together and carries a more defined sense of movement.

It was mixed and mastered by Joe Talia, a collaborator of Oren Ambarchi and Jim O’Rourke, and if like me you enjoyed Ambarchi’s Ghosted trio with Johan Berthing and Andreas Werliin this strangely compelling music should be right up your street.

Asking; Heater; Oranges; Situation; Melody; Someone (36.20)
Łukasz Rychlicki (elg, b); Mike Majkowski (b); Paweł Szpura (d). Kana Theatre, Szczecin, 3-4 August 2022.
Gusstaff Records GRAM 2312