Baltimore band Tomato Flower has introduced themselves today with a new single and video off their forthcoming debut EP Gold Arc, out February 11th, 2022 on Ramp Local.
“Red Machine” is a utopian pop song that envisions global transformation. With lyrics spanning the city and country toward a vision of worldwide solidarity, the single takes the form of a compact pop single to imagine a joyous future. Fittingly, the video — directed and edited by the band’s Austyn Wohlers — is a panoramic vision of industrial and rural landscapes, focusing on images of movement and transfer. Blending images of industrial modernity with pastoral life, the video reflects the song’s imagined future of a transformed city and country.
About Gold Arc:
How might a Utopia exist? If the goal is social harmony amidst free-thinking citizens, where do the moral sets and ideals come from? It might include existing peacefully and respectfully with the natural world—agriculture and industry on an equal playing field. Maybe, an earthly utopia might not be what we expect. It might not be constant, and it might only exist in minute moments. For the Baltimore quartet Tomato Flower, utopia exists in the compromise between escapism and intellectual inquiry, between conceptual philosophy and pop-rock bliss.
Their debut EP Gold Arc finds Tomato Flower at multiple crossroads. Their sonic curiosity plays with tension between sweetness and a destructive heaviness. Conceptually, Gold Arc hungers for an alternate reality. Sometimes that is a “sustainable paradise,” as drummer Mike Alfieri puts it. Or, on “Lovers Arc,” it’s a desire to be loved constantly. “It’s not that all these songs are straightforwardly positive, though,” explains Austyn Wohlers. “I think all of the songs are about longing for a different world and a different future. But, they take various shapes,” she says. “The song ‘Truth Lounge,’ for example, has a lot of pain and longing for a different world. ‘World to Come,’ has maybe a cultish edge to it.”
Tomato Flower is the result of long-lasting friendships and overlapping collaborations that found Austyn Wohlers, Mike Alfieri, Jamison Murphy (and later adding bassist Ruby Mars) looking for the balance between taut guitars and experimental pop music. Although Baltimore-based, Jamison reveals a list of inspiration that comes from the experimental rock scene he and Austyn experienced in Atlanta at college.
Unsatisfied with both conflicting genres, the goal of Tomato Flower is to find that unexpectedly harmonized center. “Sometimes we’ll start with a pop song and we’ll consciously fuck it up—chop time signatures and incorporate dissonance. Sometimes we’ll start from a rockier riff and then we’ll really work on getting the melody to be as catchy as possible,” explains Wohlers. “We have this sound in our head that doesn’t exist yet. It’s part pop music, but we also like weirdo stuff. And we’re trying to find whatever that point is that satisfies us,” Alfieri adds.
Gold Arc is a home-recorded EP mixed with Jared Paolini at Tempo house in Baltimore. It came together in three batches across the end of 2019, the beginning of 2020, and later in the year into the beginning of 2021. Despite having different musical backgrounds, Tomato Flower approach their music in an equal communion. No matter who brings the initial demo, the group’s goal is to intentionally fuck-up and complicate it into a catchy and surprising composition.
“All of us are interested in thinking about every instrument, even if we all have our own areas of expertise,” Wohlers says. Tomato Flower have dug out a space of familiarity and innovation for Gold Arc. At times their music recalls the melancholic psych-rock of their contemporaries Crumb or Broadcast’s entrancing avant-pop.
As said, Gold Arc contains a romantic desire for a balanced future and the anxious reality that that vision might not manifest. Roaming guitars maneuver spaceship bleeps and pounding drums on “Truth Lounge,” whereas the preceding “World to Come” is a sign of moody indie rock with hypnotic, shivering percussion. Challenging the genre conventions and expectations of how we envision the future, Tomato Flower’s songs are dynamic questions. A new guard of experimental pop, their music demonstrates where curiosity can take us, improving and expanding upon what came before with a bright outlook.