If you haven’t yet heard of Los Angeles-based cosmic psych-pop duo HOTT MT, give them a listen. HOTT MT was formed in 2012, consisting of singer-bassist Ashi Dala and singer-guitarist Nick “Spooki” Tavi. HOTT MT is an acronym for Hour Of The Time Majesty Twelve, named after a radio show by conspiracy theorist and UFO expert William Cooper, which takes cosmic dream pop to a whole new level.
With frontwoman Dala’s whispery vocals and ethereal lyrics, HOTT MT’s signature sound is celestial dream pop. The group released its second full-length record, AU, which stands for “alternate universe” — an apt title for an album describing two worlds and everything in between.
The album was inspired by Michael Ende’s 1979 novel The Neverending Story, a fairy tale adventure about a boy who travels to a magical land ruled by a childlike empress, as explained by Dala on the duo’s YouTube series, “Now You Know The Lyrics.” True to its literary inspiration, the album feels cosmic and spiritual.
A few standout songs on the album are “At Night in Chinatown,” “Queen of Shapes” and “Ivory Tower.” AU is about transitioning between places — it’s about the in-between and the power of change. This is especially powerful coming from a band that was displaced from its home in Chinatown, and whose members ended up living in their cars at one point.
On the HOTT MT Bandcamp page, the band describes its personal sound as, “Taking you to a magical place and leaving you there since 2012,” which sums up their ethos of using music to transport listeners to another world. The duo describes itself as “Thai gaze,” as evidenced by its choice of tags on Bandcamp.
Some of the songs definitely channel a sound reminiscent of East Asia, especially in the beginning of the song “Tournament I,” which makes the group different from a lot of other psych bands in Los Angeles. The pair’s sophomore album includes spoken word stories about lightning strikes from friends getting drunk after graduating high school, a cover of Sesame Street’s “Alphaquest” theme song and many mentions of emperors and warriors, making the album feel very whimsical and story-like, yet simultaneously wise and mature.
HOTT MT will perform at Desert Daze in Joshua Tree National Park on Oct. 13 and again a week later at The Echo in Los Angeles on Oct. 30.
Christina Nour is a senior majoring in civil engineering. She is also the Los Angeles Music Director at KXSC Radio. The rotating guest column “KXSC Radio” runs Thursdays.