If the name Signal Bath doesn't ring a bell, then maybe you've heard of Shane Thomas—who's made a name for himself as part of Bend's gone-but-not-forgotten experimental, instrumental rock band Empty Space Orchestra. Now, Thomas, the brains behind Beat Lab Radio, debuts his electronic solo E.P. "Queen of the Night," under the Signal Bath moniker.
Signal Bath worked on the album for the past year and a half and shows no signs of slowing down after the release. Born from the desire to create something that was just his own, "Queen of the Night" combines both analog and digital techniques to create a lush soundscape.
"For the most part, everything starts out just messing around on guitar and then I loop a lot of things and I'll use a lot of delay and reverb effects," Thomas says. "Eventually I'll have this mish-mash, wall-of-sound kind of loop going on and I'll record that into Ableton. That's where the digital meets analog."
Ableton, a digital music production software, allows Thomas to do whatever he wants as far as composition and manipulation go. He starts with an easy guitar or synth loop that may be taken out of the song later. Next, he taps out a drum beat and bass line around it. The songs evolve from there. Sometime he'll hate it for a week and then listen to it more and begin to fall in love with it again, he says.
Signal Bath's album name has an interesting backstory. After quitting his job at a local dispensary, Thomas trimmed weed at a "reefer camp." While he was there, he listened to an audio book called "The Botany of Desire" a number of times. The book discusses different plants that have made a co-evolutionary bond with humanity in order to help themselves survive.
The Queen of the Night was the name 17th century France gave to the black tulip, as it was a very sought-after, valuable item of affection. While most flowers grow bright to attract pollination, the black flower survived because it appealed to a certain human desire—a desire for beauty.
"That's kind of what I see in my music sometimes," Thomas says. "A lot of the things that spark what I feel like is going to be a good song is just a little anomaly in a loop that I didn't really intend to be there and it excites me. I feel like it's a little bit of a parallel there, the way the flower is a mistake and the way the music is a mistake, but it appeals to the human desire of beauty."
"Queen of the Night" will be available on iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp and Soundcloud May 2.
Signal Bath E.P. Release Party
Support from Hakuu and Lazouli
Friday April 28, 10pm
190 NW Oregon Ave., Bend