If you’re a fan of ambitious, out-there heavy psych, you’ll want to dive into Sparkling Waters, the new album from Santa Cruz heavy-prog-psych band Mammatus. The trio’s fourth LP is a double album comprised of four side-long compositions, each of which has multiple movements.
Today, we’re premiering “The Elkhorn,” which traverses a lot of ground over fifteen minutes, from heavy grooves to hypnotic synth-driven drones. It’s an impressive song, well captured by SF production whiz Phil Manley.
That every element of “The Elkhorn” comes together so seamlessly is a testament to the band’s songwriting skill and thoughtful approach to recording. Band member Nicholas Emmert offered the following note about the song and how Mammatus arrived at the finished product:
“The Elkhorn” is a song we wrote in typical Mammatus fashion – over a very long period of time. I estimate the evolution of the song from writing to recording was at least four or five years, perhaps more. It’s hard to say because, not unlike being human, it is easy to forget the details of its origin. Our style is to work in small fragments of time on a consistent weekly basis, adding riffs, or making adjustments allowing time to give a fresh perspective.
Sometimes we will shelve a song for a few months and work on something else, allowing the song to ferment only to revisit it later to discover it has somehow become something different, or we have become something different, or we discover some mind blowing (to us anyway) new way of playing it, or we scrap it… probably some form of all of the above. “The Elkhorn” has the most “Heady Mental” vibe of the new album. Power trio live tracking with the addition of post production wizardry.
We recorded the song on the second weekend of our two weekend “Sparkling Waters” recording session with Phil (the man) Manley at Lucky Cat in SF. We took the basic tracks back to our practice space and really had some fun. On every song on the album we added synthesizers and various other sounds to fill in some of the space. “The Elkhorn” really benefited the most from this process. In fact, just before we went to record the song we changed a few parts and made them longer with the intention of having a multitude of overdubs on that particular part. I remember that we purposely tried to take it to a ridiculous place and then dial it back just one notch with the hopes of making the album experience different from the live one.
Phil had a fun time trying to balance all of the different elements happening in the song when we brought it back to his newest digs “El Studio” for mixing. This really solidified the song and made it fit better with the overall vibe of the album. In the end it became a full on Tangerine Dream style synth workout! Those who’ve heard this song live will crack a smile when they hear what it ultimately became in the studio. Thank you for taking the time to hear it and we hope you have at least half as much fun listening to it as we did making it.
Sparkling Waters arrives this Friday, November 20, 2015 on Spiritual Pajamas, and Mammatus will be performing in Santa Cruz and Oakland this weekend. Dig those dates, as well another Mammatus stream, of lead single “Ornia,” below.
Mammatus, Highness, Whisper
The Blue Lagoon (Santa Cruz)
November 20, 2015
Mammatus, Magic Trick, Matt Baldwin, DJ Phil Manley
Starline Social Club
November 21, 2015