The Lotus Operation: Blog en-us (C) The Lotus Operation [email protected] (The Lotus Operation) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:37:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:37:00 GMT The Lotus Operation: Blog 80 120 the wire and recording
I am very excited to present my first fully finished song in a while, The Wire. This one has been a long time coming. Please have a listen, download it, take it with you, enjoy it!
People often ask me, "Why do you make music?" Actually, no one asks me that. Unless I am paying them and they are in a chair. I'm usually on a couch in these situations. But this is what blogs are for, right? Answers to questions you've never asked, from someone you don't necessarily talk to.
So, why do I make music? It is a compulsion and a craving. A source of energy when I'm heading towards the bottom. A place to express myself when the rest of the world tells me to fall in line and be quiet.

Me and Dad, early '90'sMy Dad and I at a Fox 97 Oldies concert in Atlanta. We saw Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and many more at these. My starting point is my Dad. He has always loved music and it has always been  part of our lives. Growing up, he managed a Camelot Music store at the mall. This meant all the "promotional use only" CD's I could ever want and the awesome ability to go to the back room and stay after the mall closed. Excessive cappuccino and Beavis and Butthead jokes for all. It also meant tons of music, new and old. I won't even go into the impact album artwork has had on me. Another time.

Patience Method, Tasty World, Athens, 2002 Fast forward to college and I had several years of singing, writing, and performing under my belt. I had to go to school out of town. Eventually the distance was too much and I got kicked out of my band. I floundered around trying to find a place to fit in creatively. I never actually found another band that suited me after that. I answered ads and went to try-outs, but nothing ever felt right. I never stopped singing or writing though.
One day I answered an ad for a weekly paid recording gig in the Flagpole magazine. The guy sent me an instrumental track, as well as a loose idea of the melody he wanted. His name was Mark Lord and he recorded as Whereabouts Underground. The music was bluesy with a little country to it. I needed some money and wanted to sing, so this was a no-brainer. When I arrived at his place, Mark offered me a Mountain Dew and we talked for a while. He always had a soda for me when I got there. He told me that he recorded all of this music on his own and just reached out for help on vocals because he didn't feel like his were up to the standard he wanted. He just set up with a little Boss recording station and did his own thing. He didn't worry about shows, or merch, or how to make ends meet, he worried about expressing his ideas. It was beautiful. It was such a departure from the starry-eyed plans of youth and dreams of making it. I didn't want that pressure, but I needed to sing. Mark's creative autonomy was amazing. There were no politics,no questions of dedication, just music. I decided to try it myself.

I recorded 10-15 songs with him throughout the year and eventually asked if he could help me record something of my own. It wasn't actually my own, but I loved the song as if it were my own and I had been given permission to record my own version. I brought some borrowed equipment over and recorded a full song that day, some of it improvised  on the spot. The rhythm was completely off, but I had recorded something on my own. I could do this. I just had to learn some more instruments and how to record. No big deal right?

I spent years collecting equipment and learning everything I could. Through many missteps and basic mistakes I found ways to document the rambling ideas and make them what I wanted. Finishing them...that was another battle altogether. But here we are. The Lotus Operation is happening and I have The Wire to play for you.

Some people may see this and think, "Big deal, its just one song." But it is a finished song. And there will be more to follow. For me, it is the furthest I've gotten on my own. It is a symbol of me pushing myself creatively in a way I never though I could. I'm excited. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

I couldn't have done this without Nick Fiore. A huge thank you is in order for his superb drumming and recording ability. If you need drums, this is your guy, Thanks for listening!

[email protected] (The Lotus Operation) mark lord music nick fiore origin story recording the wire whereabouts underground Mon, 17 Mar 2014 14:00:00 GMT
graveyards and yard sales I openly admit that I am a scavenger. I probably won't eat the rest of your plate, but I'm not ashamed to dig in the dirt or walk through some alleys to find materials and keepsakes. Sometimes these finds arrive first, but sometimes the ideas come up before I have the right components. My most recent piece, Osseofrenda, was an idea for a few years before the right pieces came together. Of the two found components, one came from a yard sale, and one came from a graveyard.

Osseofrenda - The Lotus OperationOsseofrenda

It isn't nearly as grim as it sounds, I promise. Many of my ideas come to me without meaning. I don't mean that in a grand visionary way, just that I don't know what these images in my head mean when I see them and feel the urge to make a note of them somehow. Usually they become clear in a blank moment sometime long after the piece is done. In this case the idea was about giving to your detriment. Think The Giving Tree.

The first piece I found for this idea was a bone in the woods on a hike. It seemed perfect, it was a vertebrae in good condition. Most importantly, it wasn't human. Rule #3 of scavenging. I kept it around for a few months while I waited to find the piece of wood. In the meantime, a dogsitting incident rendered the bone in less-than-awesome condition. My dog Yoshi doesn't really act like a dog, so I forget, dogs and bones don't really pan out when you leave the room. Canine providence, really. I'm not apologizing for typing that. 

After a few months with no bone or wrecked chunk of wood to be found, Grace and I set out on a trip to Santa Fe. It didn't go so well. Grace received the wonderful anniversary gift of food poisoning. Luckily, the drive home was in good health, so we could enjoy the amazing drive as it should be done, complete with roadside stops and conversations with cows. 

Roadside Biker Graveyard


On a particularly high part of the road we pulled off at this mountainside cemetery. We both tend to enjoy visiting graveyards. She likes it because it's a photographer's heaven, and I like it because I'm from Rome, Georgia. There is only so much to do, and Myrtle Hill Cemetery was Top 5. Not as creepy as it sounds, I swear. the key

This place was different than any cemetery I had visited before. You felt like you knew the people. The grave sites were so elaborately decorated with the person's character and story. It was very colorful and personal and full of biker memorabilia. There were full-size metal sculptures, helmets, keys, and little notes. Walking around there I found my perfect piece. I knew when I saw it, that it belonged to that idea. The rusty nails, the peeling layers, the shape of it - it was all perfect. I could see the hand reaching out from it immediately.

The bone finally showed up about a year later. A self proclaimed "junk man" was moving away from his place near my work. I had previously bought the parts to make my dining room table from him, and he always had interesting rusty stuff laying around that he would part with for cheap. The catch was that you had to stay for an intensely personal 15-minute conversation with a man you barely knew who may or may not be drunk. It was worth it every time. I had pulled together my usual assortment of rusty art supplies and odd storage containers when I spotted some bones hiding behind an old tabletop. It isn't unusual in Colorado to just have bones in your front yard. Its part of the charm. He didn't remember where they came from or why they were there, but he was willing to throw them in with my pile. When I picked it up a tiny spider crawled out of the center. The bone was more perfect than anything I'd imagined I'd find. As for the hand, I didn't find that, you can rest easy. It was sculpted. I don't want to spoil everything, so I'm keeping that quiet. 

Sometimes you don't get exactly what you want when you're working with found objects right off the ground. This time each piece I found developed the idea beyond anything I could plan for. It can take years for the pieces to show up, but I always find that it is worth the wait. I have been very surprised by the response to this piece. Thank you for checking it out and thank you for all the kind words, this is a special piece to me.

[email protected] (The Lotus Operation) bone lucy the dog materials osseofrenda scavenging sculpture wood Thu, 28 Feb 2013 15:20:21 GMT
hello world. Welcome to 2.0. The second attempt at a digital transmission of my works. Everything has been simplified and complicated all at the same time, but hopefully, you'll only see the simplified aspects. 

As my artwork continues to become more and more three dimensional, I have found it incredibly challenging to get the work across as 0's and 1's. Luckily, my righteous wife over at Acoma Street Photography has helped me find compelling ways to shoot these projects. Our collaborations really took off with the album artwork for Odist's Khimaira. Definitely check that album out if you have not yet. I will write more about the process and experience here soon. 

So if you look at the title of the site, you're probably wondering, "Why can't I find the music?" Well, it isn't quite ready yet. I'll be posting some demos as the songs are completed, but it may take a little while before I finalize the tracks. I am committed to finishing them, so I took the ol' "If you type it on the internet, then you'll have to do it" approach. The Lotus Operation is just me and a couple of awesome collaborators, so it definitely takes time. For now, I've put up a demo of Weight and Consequence, a track that I've been messing around with for quite a while. This will probably be the first song you will get to hear finalized. I will release another demo in the coming weeks.

This demo features Nick Fiore from Gata Negra and his Fists of Fiore drumming service and a million other bands in Denver. He is my Mile High Josh Freese. Working with him was the easiest part of the recording process. A huge thanks go out to you, sir! You'll get to hear him on any track with drums that I release here.

So what else is going to happen here? More sculptures, more tunes, and probably some general ramblings. I will be putting out a lot of work from the Odist project, including time lapse videos, process pictures, and interpretations. I will be working with Grace to reshoot a lot of my older work as well. I will also be rolling out some "services" such as album artwork and custom sculptures for you lovely folks. 

Thanks for dropping by. I hope you will be back to see and hear more. In the meantime, follow those links to find some good stuff. 

Alex - The Lotus Operation

[email protected] (The Lotus Operation) acoma street photography alex castellanos fists of fiore grace castellanos khimaira music nick fiore odist recording Sun, 27 Jan 2013 17:19:37 GMT