Those paying any amount of attention to the American DIY undergrounds knows that Track and Fields has become one of the prominent most talked about/whispered about/texted about/and what have you in these recent days and years. Under the auspices of chief taste/style-definer, Track & Field label boss & member of Cemeteries & Pat Moon—Kate Davis—the landscapes of future American & international primitive painters are being bestowed new soundtracks to find inspiration from. Perpetuating T&F’s current winning streak is news of the new Orchid Mantis album Flashbulb Memory available December 30 where we are introduced to the mind-melting wonder-world painted by Atlanta’s Thomas Howard.
The single “Somewhere You’ve Been Before” is that synth ballad that blends found-sound lo-fi baroque stems into a slow dance to be held for those intimate moments of remembrance that words fail to encapsulate and yet are still burned through to the deep rooted membrane fibers of memory. This is the feeling of finding yourself trapped in an old movie that you once watched with a long lost relative or close but now estranged friend where the dramas of spaces both near & far between shared hearts is played out in the most sublime syth pop operas for our era.
Thomas had the following items to say about “Somewhere You’ve Been Before” and Flashbulb Memory:
“Somewhere You’ve Been Before”
This song, along with the second-to-last track on Flashbulb Memory, were the product of a week-long recording session with my friend Neil at his cabin in North Carolina. Originally, the plan was to write & record all the basic elements for my next album while I was there. I failed miserably at least in terms of quantity, leaving with just a few unfinished demos to show for it—only 2 of which actually ended up on Flashbulb Memory. That being said, those two are my personal favorite songs I’ve ever recorded. I barely slept during that session, working all through the night. That sorta half-awake headspace & the forest surrounding us ended up playing a major role in shaping the dreamy, reverb-heavy production in this song (as well as others). The lyrics were written around an image that really came from nowhere—someone waking up on the shore of a lake that they vaguely remember but can’t quite place.
Everything on Flashbulb Memory, aside from a few field recordings & heavily obscured/altered samples, was written, recorded, and mastered by myself. It was a two-year project, beginning in the summer of 2014 & ending in 2016. As I worked on other releases, I was putting aside tracks that didn’t quite fit & saving them for what would eventually become Flashbulb Memory. Unlike my other releases – which were generally all unmastered 4-track recordings – these songs are a blend of digital & analog sound. While almost everything recorded for the album has been filtered through my tape machine at least once, I tried to achieve a clearer, more dynamic sound by mixing all of those individual elements in Ableton.