LOTUS DOG self titled CD
  Ursa Minor Arts and media 2004. Our rating [7/10]

Lotus Dog is a rock-tronic music project led by brother and sister song-writing team TSO and Jolie. More like a community than a band, Lotus Dog’s debut release features more than two dozen guest musicians and contributors, from Afghan tabla player / vocalist Tameem to Oakland rappers The Conscious Daughters.

Combined with Jolie’s heart-felt vocals and TSO’s avant garde production style, this rich assortment of musical elements results in an unusual blend of rock, electronic, and hip-hop flavors. Lotus Dog defies convention with hip-rock-tronic music that tells their story with few rules, and few boundaries. Guitars, drums, electronic loops and effects, and a myriad of exotic and orchestral instruments are utilized – varying in mood from aggressive and driving to melancholy and atmospheric.

But it’s the lyrics that most define the intent of Lotus Dog. „Each song is a prayer,” says lead singer/songwriter Jolie. „We wanted to look as deeply and earnestly as possible at the human experience including our relationship to Creation itself.” Not inspirational or spiritual music per se, Lotus Dog is more an experiment in the reflection, integration, and transcendence of spiritual views.

Another important, if somewhat audacious goal of the Lotus Dog project is to convey a depth of philosophical significance without compromising quality and style. In other words, we want to create music that is both deeply meaningful and fun at the same time. Music that takes responsibility for contributing something of value to human consciousness, without being self-righteous. The lotus symbolizes the innate desire for wisdom and wholeness, while the dog symbolizes playfulness, mischief, and unconditional love.

Taken as a whole, much of today’s media is a chaos of fragmented motives, beliefs, sensationalism, and cynicism, which seems only to aggravate the compounding crises we face as a planetary civilization. Given this dilemma, the age-old capacity of art to unify human beings on a heart and soul level – above ideology and dogma – becomes vital. Only attempts to contextualize the noise, rather than overpower it, can ultimately spur the predominance of our better nature. This attempt is the essence of Lotus Dog.

The Lotus Dog Approach

Lotus Dog was conceived as a vehicle for artistic and spiritual investigation beyond the confines of pre-existing definitions of art and spirituality. In other words, the intent is not to express emotions or ideas we have already experienced, but to inquire into creative potential itself to see what „new” we can discover about ourselves, and the life experience.

The result of this ongoing experiment is both surprising and challenging, because it seems to reveal as much about our own resistance to the unknown as it does actual revelations.

One difficulty is maintaining an attitude of genuine openness and humility. On the one hand, we are clearly motivated by a need for greater meaning – to deepen our awareness, express that new awareness through music, and hopefully contribute something of value to humanity in the process. On the other hand, we tend to expect recognition, comfort, or reward for this effort as individuals, and herein lies the paradox.

We are learning that the perception of our inner nature only deepens to the extent we release our attachment to shallower definitions of who and what we are. In the same way that humanity had to relax its belief in the world being flat in order for the realization of it being round to take hold in consciousness, the experience of expanded awareness depends on recognizing our true self as inseparable from the evolutionary continuum of life itself.

So if our goal is to realize truth beyond personal knowledge, any attachment to or belief that we are fundamentally separate from that truth is like trying to have our cake and eat it too. This is not to say that we can’t make enjoyable and even meaningful music with separate-self identity firmly in place. We can do our best to improve upon our past efforts and grow personally. We can even have a good time.

But since our objective is to express the highest context possible, as agents of ultimate truth, (which, as bold as it sounds, when we look closely is the deepest aspiration underlying superficial desires), only by getting ourselves „out of the way” is anything truly significant discovered.

This is proving to be quite a task, and an extraordinary adventure…