Seattle trio Tomten will be making a tour stop in Tacoma at Alma Mater on Friday, Sept. 28 to celebrate their forthcoming full-length album, “Viva Draconia.”
Tomten has been at it for a decade, forming when Brian Noyes-Watkins and Lena Simon (La Luz) were in art school 10 years ago. In 2018, now comprised of Noyes-Watkins, Dillon Sturtevant, and Jake Brady, Tomten is preparing to release their forth full-length album, “Viva Draconia,” on Noyes-Watkins and Sturtevant’s own Plume Records on vinyl, CD, and digital formats. The group is on tour opening for Bryan John Appleby.
Often described as baroque or dream pop for their prominent use of organ, electric piano and analog synthesizers, Tomten shares a wide influence from early power-pop to electric folk.
The band formed in 2008 when singer/keyboardist Noyes-Watkins met original bassist Simon at art school. The two began recording demos in the practice rooms, and started performing regularly in 2010 after drummer Brady joined.
Their debut full-length “Wednesday’s Children” was released in June of 2012. Recorded on an old 16-track Tascam in a small Seward Park studio over the course of July the year prior, “Wednesday’s Children” is a keen plate-reverbed excursion over a sound bed of Leslie organs, Rhodes, chiming guitars, and three-part harmonies.
Following the release of “Wednesday’s Children,” Tomten began work on their follow-up album, “The Farewell Party,” recording with engineer/producer Jason Quever (Papercuts) during the summer of 2013 in Sacramento and San Francisco. The singles off “The Farewell Party” displayed a stronger focus on songwriting as well as production. “The Farewell Party” was released Aug. 19, 2014 on Seattle label Versicolor, with a following U.S. tour.
After releasing a single in May of 2015, “Bitter Pill” b/w “Humdrum Doom Song,” Tomten, now featuring Noyes-Watkins (keys, guitar, vocals), Brady (drums), and Sturtevant (bass, vocals), released their third full-length “Cremation Songs” on Seattle label Plume Records on July 7, 2017.
“I first thought of the name ‘Cremation Songs’ as a bit of a joke to poke fun at our previous record ‘The Farewell Party,’” says Noyes-Watkins. “It later dawned on me that it fit the songs well, seeing as most are vaguely about death in some way or another.”
Now Tomten is set to release their fourth album, “Viva Draconia,” named to invoke an authoritarian anthem sung by grey children in a grey room, or a boldly written declaration on war time propaganda. This release marks a shift from “Cremation Songs,” offering a record that is more personal, energetic and electronic. The additions of an acoustic 12 string and Roland SH 2000 for most of the album’s lead synth parts makes a bigger sounding record than the band’s previous output.
“Going into this record, we wanted to make a synthesizer focused album, also keeping it more concise. All of the songs are new and I didn’t pull anything from the past to rework which has sometimes been the case on previous records,” says Noyes-Watkins.
Charles Spitzack created the album artwork. “Charles is a fantastic artist who did some pieces for The Project Room in Seattle a few years back called ‘The Big Question Print Series,'” says Noyes-Watkins. “I was looking through some of the work he’d done, and saw this print, and I immediately felt a strong connection to it. Its abstract violence seemed fitting, and I didn’t want an image that was too specific or loaded.”
Lead single “Blue Movie” is a pop song in the vein of Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark, with that kind of instant synth gratification. According to the band, “It’s a song about pornographic excess and dissatisfaction, but with some whimsy!”
“Viva Draconia” is set for release on Seattle label Plume Records on Sept. 28 on CD, vinyl, and digital formats.
Friday, Sept. 28, 8 p.m.
1322 Fawcett Ave., Tacoma
$12-$17 / 21+