Orchid Mantis Evokes The Coveted Nostalgia Like That Of Old Photographs
Orchid Mantis is the experimental bedroom pop project of Atlanta-based artist Thomas Howard. Since the project’s start in 2014, Howard’s now signature lo-fi sound has gracefully inhabited the space that separates ambient compositional structures and pop songwriting, frequently utilizing obscure samples and unique recording techniques; overall, his sound evokes the coveted nostalgia like that of old photographs and precious, irreplaceable mementos. Howard thoughtfully carves space for narratives detailing - as it says in his bandcamp bio - songs about “forgetting;” in other words, he brilliantly explores the elusive, fleeting natures of memory, time, and place, resulting in immensely earnest works that often feel blissfully surreal in the way they attempt to encapsulate not only abstract emotions, but the way in which these emotions have the tendency to overlap.
How Long Will It Take is Howard’s seventh full length album, primarily about the reality of loss as well as the often lengthy and painful process of letting go. And yet, just like his past discography - most recently, the gorgeous Visitations, there’s still an essence of hope despite the deep wistfulness; throughout, Howard’s vocals, bright and focused, seem to evoke a beam of light piercing through a dense fog. Opener “Time Flows” comments on the idea of falling back into the past: “And it will never be just like/ things have been before / And I could never understand it / I’ve never been the one to close the door.” But Howard has always orchestrated a consistent current that courses through his albums; even tonally opposite tracks, like the upbeat ballad “I Could Live In Sleep” and the slightly somber “You Have My Soul” still very much feel like kindred spirits. “Nothing feels the same / but nothing’s really changed,” he explains in lead single “Lucid Dreams,” the ever-expanding chorus hinting at something like subtle epiphany. Ultimately, the album seems to be an oscillation, looking to the past and future, yes, but aware that he’s hovering somewhere in the ether of the present.