Premiere: orchid mantis – i only remember the good parts

I Only Remember The Good Parts, the latest mercurial offering from experimental bedroom pop purveyor Orchid Mantis is a devastatingly beautiful record, mysterious and obfuscatory, and a masterclass in proving that less is certainly more.  

There is a secretive, introspective quality to the album where warbling lo-fi strums of down tuned guitars move in and out of focus like faded polaroids, a strange sadness settling over these songs’ hushed beauty. The pace is glacial, the vocals soporific, shaping spectral lullabies that shimmer and fade. Each song feels like it could go on forever but then stops unexpectedly leaving space and small-room soundscapes breathing- as if the songs’ transient but hypnotic melodies could still be playing indefinitely in a parallel universe whilst half-snatched conversations and disjointed samples bounce to and fro like phosphenes.  

It is undeniably lo-fi in its sound palette but this still allows for great richness and detail, the pitch-bent, four-track warble of the recording giving the songs a wistful, haunted atmosphere that matches the album’s smoke and mirrors back-story perfectly. There are moments of backwards guitar and whirling sound manipulation that almost remind me of the Marquis de Tren and Will Oldham record Get on Jolly -particularly on It All Feels So Far Away with its fractured finger-picked strings, a song on the edge of breaking. 

My Forever, featuring a truly beautiful vocal from guest singer Jordana, possesses a late-night, jazz-inflected shuffle, particularly in the way drum beat, piano sample and vocals intertwine, its melody longing and spine-tingling. It is somehow a very visual song, painting sepia images in the back of the mind. This somnambulant delicacy continues in Didn’t Mean, with dreamlike vocals by Mei Semones, the lyrics somehow absurd and arresting in equal measure. The manipulated field-recording samples on Drove Back add to this sense of something ghostly; memory is key here but it’s a half-remembered memory; a glimpse of a dream only seen at the moment of waking. 

This is such a beautiful, enigmatic album. It feels like a whispered secret. The way the sound breaks and warbles like an old cartoon, or like the earliest tapes of Daniel Johnston, or like Bagpuss. These things all tap into something inherently childlike – or at least a yearning for a lost childhood, the weight of nostalgia clinging to everything like dust in the attic.

Do not forget to pre-order this album on cassette or vinyl.

Written by M. A. Welsh (Misophone)