Oakland’s current creative prestige in the Bay Area scene is undeniable and obvious to anyone paying even the slightest attention. While San Francisco has grown more or less complacent in its production of bar-happy Burger Records Music™, a ten minute drive over the bridge will drop you in a city currently dripping with artistry and enterprise. One could easily blame the development of this almost chasmic disparity on the rising cost of living, lack of all-ages venues, and general sociocultural upheaval currently gripping San Francisco – but this is not what we are here to talk about. What we are here to talk about is the self-titled debut of Lofter, one of the more recent additions to Oakland’s amorphous musical roster.
Released digitally in January of this year, these seven tracks showcase an innovative and refreshed approach to hostility. Although “post-hardcore,” “skrams,” “alt-punk,” “mathcore,” and “noise rock” could all be considered appropriate tags for their brand of heaviness, Lofter seem to stand outside these pigeon-holes, mocking their futile and ultimately arbitrary existence. This being said, their influences aren’t entirely ambiguous; the dynamics of Unwound, the eccentric aggression of Rorschach, and the sincerity of I Hate Myself are all very much tangible. There is an overwhelming sense of anxiety present, but this anxiety finds a sort of confused balance in its expression. Through this, Lofter have crafted a sound which does to the ears what the Penrose triangle does to the eyes – intrigues to the point of absurdity.
Although the tracks’ fleeting progressions and anonymity render impossible the act of identifying and deconstructing a “single” in the traditional sense, one cannot help but feel that this is an intentional move. Sure, the tracks are presented as individuals, but therein hides an underlying cohesion that is, in many ways, much more gratifying. Clocking in at around twelve minutes, there is a determinate brevity in Lofter’s relentless, angular bursts. However, this brevity is by no means a compositional cop-out; these tracks navigate both mental and physical discomfort with an undeniable poise, resulting in a listening experience that shouldn’t feel as lucid as it does. Make no mistake, Lofter makes abrasive, headache-inducing music – the violent rejection of melody, the deterring cadence, and the general lack of any sense of structural headway somehow work both together and at odds to yield a brutal case of sonic indigestion. However, this indigestion is absolutely one worth indulging in, for Lofter peddle their noise with a tastefulness that borders on elegance.
As mentioned above, there is a substantial discordance in the current musical output of San Francisco vs. Oakland, of which Lofter is emblematic. To say their sound is “a-San Franciscan” sounds funny, but is by no means inaccurate – their jarring intensity would undoubtedly frustrate the nightly patrons of the Milk Bar, the Hemlock Tavern, Amnesia, or any of the city’s other “venues” willing to host local bands. In fact, imagining Lofter playing anything but a living room or garage seems almost ridiculous; they deserve nothing less than the visceral intimacy of the house show, something San Francisco simply no longer offers. Lofter belongs in Oakland, and for this I applaud them.