027 – Orchid Mantis

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Es ist Montag und Zeit für eine neue Playlist voller melancholischer Musik, die uns durch den Tag bringt. Die heutige finde ich besonders schön, weil ich viele Songs selber noch nicht kannte und weil sie von einem Künstler kommt, den ich letztes Jahr entdeckt und seitdem nicht mehr losgelassen habe - Orchid Mantis ist das Projekt von dem aus Georgia stammenden Musiker Thomas Howard und ein Muss für jeden mit einer Schwäche für leiernden Dreampop à la Epic45. Im November letzten Jahres veröffentlichte Thomas Howard sein aktuelles Album „Yellow House“ - eine Hommage an das Yellow House Studio, in dem es geschrieben und produziert wurde.

Yellow House“, Howards fünftes Album, ist im Fluss. Die 12 Songs ziehen sich meditativ durch die Platte. Alles hat mit allem zu tun, alles steht miteinander in Verbindung und ist sprichwörtlich mit einander verbunden.

Mit leiernden und verträumten Gitarren, Synthies und Tape-Collagen schafft Thomas Howard Lo-Fi Pop, der direkt ins Herz der Generation VHS schießt. Musik für schon längst vergangene Sommer. Ein melancholisches Netz für die Gedanken, die man gern nach ganz hinten schiebt. Die Instrumentierung, der gehauchte Gesang, der einen scheinbar bewusst plauderhaft anspricht und die warme Melancholie der Songs schaffen eine Intimität, die es leicht macht, sich in dieser Platte zu verlieren. Musik, die dafür geschaffen ist, sie allein zu hören, weil sie Bilder malt, die in jedem Kopf anders aussehen.

Genau das macht Thomas Howard für mich zu einem einzigartigen Künstler. Er schafft es das Gefühl, was er in die Songs legt, mir als Hörer so zu vermitteln, dass ich meine eigene Erinnerung damit verbinde. „Yellow House“ genau wie der Rest seiner musikalischen Arbeit und vor allem das Vorgängeralbum „Kulla Sunset“ möchte ich euch als Hörempfehlung unbedingt ans Herz legen. -Martin


Duster – Memphis Sophisticate

Let’s get this one out of the way first - Memphis Sophisticate is the most miserable song I’ve ever encountered. I wouldn’t say it’s the saddest, but the depressive energy is brutal. It’s intense - like, you can’t put on the song and just ignore it or wallow, it just gets under your skin.

Fog Lake – I’ll Be Around

There were several contenders for which Fog Lake track would make it on here, but this one stands out to me because of the sampled material he employed. I’ve been a fan of that approach ever since I heard Dirty Beaches’ excellent “Badlands” but there’s something especially lonely and haunted about Fog Lake’s minimal invocation of bygone eras of pop music on this EP.

Sparklehorse – Sea of Teeth 

I only got into Sparklehorse last year, and even though I’d like to, I really can’t articulate what it’s been like listening through all of his albums. It still feels fresh for me. All I can say is that his music seems altogether focused on expressing an indescribable feeling - in sound, lyrics, everything. I think that’s why songs like this one are so surreal/vague and still so emotionally rich. I think about the lo-fi, unorthodox instrumentation and recording methods like a sonic equivalent, approaching things from a distant, flawed perspective to better represent the truth of the feeling.

Grouper – Disengaged

I wish I could put every Grouper song on this list but Disengaged is the clear standout for me – it feels ancient and decaying, like it has some sort of spiritual energy imbued in it.

Elliott Smith – No Name #1

This song is comfortably sad, something about the two guitars harmonizing just puts me at ease. It could almost be happy in its calm beauty – like a nice walk home at night, after leaving a party bummed out.

Melaina Ko l– Sckrpnch 

I’d been following Melaina Kol for a while, but this song took me completely by surprise when it came out last year. Everything about it is gorgeous: the “Reckoner”-esque rolling drums to the loose, twinkling guitars, the string swell in the middle, topped by an incredible vocal and lyrical arrangement. Mostly though, I keep listening because the progression of the song and the way it builds feels cathartic every time.

Chad Vangaalen – 1000 Pound Eyelids  

Chad is one of just a few artists who keep me motivated to practice writing songs largely centered around vocals and guitar even though it’s an approach to writing that really doesn’t come as naturally for me. Songs like these just make it worth trying.

Helvetia – Hybrid Moments 

This is one of those songs that made me love four-track recording. I love the sense of intimacy, and the fuzzy, distant light it casts on everything - it’s easier on the ears somehow. It can totally transform a song originally by The Misfits into something altogether separate and unfamiliar.

The Radio Dept. – Domestic Scene 

I was given a CD of this album for a secret Santa thing in high school, fell in love with the band and never looked back. A large part of my sonic blueprint comes from their instrumental approach. This track in particular though – just blows me away with the mood it evokes.

Cosmonauts – Part at Sunday

Underrated band. I had to put this one on here because I wore the song out completely just driving around senior year of high school. I love songs like this one, that don’t change much, just sort of drifting along picking up weight until that sampled chatter at the end pulls you back to reality. I’ve tried my best to consciously write something this simple and yet impactful, but this song really seems like something that just comes to you on its own.