The dreamy follow-up to the psych-rock band’s 2019 concept album ‘Return to Nature’ is an “ethereal rendition of [their] live set”
I don’t remember where I came upon Thaddeus Lowe, but I remember what it was that caught my attention:
The band dropped the 6:24 “Lapse”—a deep, twisty-turny piece of Sufi psych magic—as a Bandcamp exclusive in the beginning of May, and I was instantly entranced by the track (a song “about how society tries to put you in a box”) and captivated by the bright patterns and neon streaks of the nearly two-minute trailer.
Now I’m stoked to be cruising through the rest of the week to the (painfully good) sounds of the group’s new EP Return to Nature (Acoustics)—which drops officially TODAY on all streaming services!
Ahead of the release, Nadeem Gibran Salaam, the singer/songwriter (+ blogger/activist/author) behind the project, sent over some info on the album, as well as the new group behind it, composed of five accomplished musicians who—after years of friendship—are finally getting the band together.
On the difference between Return to Nature and the Acoustics EP:
Return To Nature was all about unplugging and returning back to humanism, it’s a concept album, every song moves the story in a direction ending with an opus 10-min track that ends with nature sounds (think Incubus’ Morning View‘s ending)
Return To Nature (Acoustics) is an ethereal rendition of our live set. it features my bandmates. These dudes are legends in the scene and happen to be my childhood friends, only we’ve never been in one band together!
It features a ton of amazing gear like Suzuki omnichord; a wonderful ’80s instrument with character; lots of stomping and clapping and percussion make up the drums; sitars are used but aren’t prominent on the mix because my sitar skills are new! While tons of acoustic guitars and ethereal lead guitars help make this acoustic record sound large, that’s what I really set out to do. I didn’t want a folksy record. I wanted what Thaddeus Lowe would do in the stripped-down format. The result, I believe, is a little taste of things to come, now that Thaddeus Lowe is no longer a solo project.
On the process of transitioning Thaddeus Lowe from solo project to group effort:
I’m a Brooklyn native that started playing out live around 1997. New York was a very different place. CBGB’s, Kenny’s Castaway’s… you know, the whole LES punk thing was fighting to hold on. I was lucky to start there. I’m mostly focused on my writing and activism these days, but over the last few years my childhood friends pushed me to play my music more. They joined my band and we played a string of shows last year at Friends & Lovers in Crown Heights and C’mon Everybody in Bed-Stuy.
While I enjoyed programming and/or playing all the instruments, it’s been a real treat to not only have family join the project, but seriously talented musicians help evolve this band. Last fall I tracked songs from our live set in a more ethereal format in my hood of Greenpoint at TOS Studio (a cozy studio inside the famous Pencil Factory on Greenpoint Ave and Manhattan).
On HIS bandmates:
Let me tell you more about these guys. They’re so talented and my best friends.
Our lead guitarist Eddie Arjun Peters is a Queens native that has collaborated with John Medeski, Bela Fleck, and Robert Glasper,
Our keyboardist Charles Javier Jourdan, also a Brooklyn native, is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter in EXSO. He played cello, upright bass, violin, piano, keys, and sang background vocal
Julian Maultsby played bass. [He’s] a Long Island native that plays for punk bands on the island.
David Cornejo played drums, he’s played for Badbrains and a ton of latin jazz/pop singers.
Thaddeus Lowe is as if a bunch of neighborhood kids started a band.
+ NADEEM’S FAVORITE SPOT IN BROOKLYN:
The Cowrie Shell Center is the hidden but not so secret gem of Bedford-Stuyvesant. When I moved to Bed-Stuy this year I met Priestess closing her shop. I told her how much her store reminded me of my travels to New Orleans, the warm lights, world art, scent of oils. She invited me in and immediately I was greeted by her vast collection of plants, African spiritual products and garbs. Priestess (yes that’s her name) vented about how hard COVID hit her business. She’s been here since 1991 and has a loyal local foot-traffic base comprised of Zen-seeking made-with-love enthusiasts. She said she’s had to adjust to online sales and has been delivering goods from her website straight to her neighbors’ doors, ringing the bell and leaving them on apartment fences—now that her shop has reopened, she’s allowing foot traffic and outdoor sales. As I left, Priestess offered for me to come by the next day and I’ve been soaking up the good vibes ever since. Please support The Cowrie Shell Center and go meet the light that is Priestess for some insightful conversation and flowering cacti, surrounded by enchanting African art in a brownstone building she lives in. Cowrie Shell is located at 357 Madison St. in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.
‘Return to Nature (Acoustics)’ is out now! Scoop up the album (and more Thaddeus Lowe tunes) on Bandcamp, add the songs to your playlists on Spotify and follow Thaddeus Lowe on Instagram at @thaddeusloweofficial.
Feature image (provided by the band): Yasmin Tulca
[This interview has been slightly edited and condensed.]