Deriving their name from a mid-century avant-garde photography movement, Seattle-based post punk outfit Fotoform — longtime collaborators and married couple Kim House (bass, vocals, synths) and Geoffrey Cox (guitar), along with newest member, former Death Cab for Cutie‘s and The Long Winters‘ Michael Schorr (drums) — can trace their origins back to the formation of a previous project, the dark, goth-adjacent dream pop act C’est la Mort, which formed shortly after House and Cox married.
Specializing in what they dubbed “pointy-shoegaze,” C’est la Mort released their full-length debut through their own Dismal Nitch label, as well as various compilation tracks, including a limited split 7 inch with Stars for American Laundromat‘s The Smiths‘ tribute Please Please Please. After a series of lineup changes, House and Cox re-emerged as Fotoform in late 2016.
House and Cox released their Fotoform self-titled debut in 2017. Supported with tours of the West Coast and Europe, the album received airplay and praise both locally and nationally: Album single “I Know You’re Charming” was featured as a KEXP Song of The Day. The self-titled album was voted as one of KEXP Listeners’ Top 90.3 Albums of 2017 and it landed on several year-end lists, including The Big Takeover and Part-Time Punks. Building upon a growing profile, the band followed up with 2018’s Part-Time Punks EP, which was selected as one of The Big Takeover’s EPs of 2018.
Schorr joined the band in 2019 and they started last year with two benefit singles “Yves Klein Blue,” which was recored for voter outreach and the Christmas-themed “They Say It’s Always Lonely” to benefit local food banks. Both singles found the trio expanding upon their sound with the addition of synths. The trio then went into the studio with Evan Foster to record the material for their forthcoming sophomore album Horizons in early 2020. But as a result of pandemic-related quarantines and restrictions, the Horizons sessions resumed a year later with Foster — and with Matt Bayles recording drum parts.
Horizons, which is slated for an October 15, 2021 release reportedly finds the band pivoting even further from the towering wall of guitars-based sound of their previously released work and towards a much more nuanced sound drawing equally from shoegaze, dream pop and post-punk. Continuing to pair synths with layers of guitars and driving bass, the album’s sound may bring the likes of The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Chameleons, Cocteau Twins, Slowdive and others to mind.
Earlier this year, I wrote about the painterly Garlands era Cocteau Twins meets Souvlaki era Slowdive-like “Running,” a track centered around atmospheric synths, swirling guitars, soaring hooks and a forceful motorik pulse paired with House’s ethereal vocals. Horizons‘ latest single “Too Late” may arguably be the most dynamic single off the album to date: Featuring the band’s Kim House on guitar for the first time in their history, the single further establishing their painterly and textured approach but while featuring a fed up narrator, who’s fed up and telling off someone who has wronged her.
“We’ve all experienced moments when boundaries have been crossed, whether by ourselves or someone else, and there’s no going back,” Fotoform’s Kim House explains. “‘Too Late’ is about that moment of alienation- the point of no return. It’s almost a two-sided monologue, it’s a warning/reminder but also a kind of satisfying break-up song about being strong enough to cut someone off who has wronged you emotionally, romantically, or even professionally: That’s it, ‘you’re cut off.’ But: ‘you did it to yourself.’”
Besides the new album, the trio — much like the rest of us — is looking forward to getting back to live shows and touring. They’ve also been writing and working on new material, including a split 7 inch with Savage Republic.
The band has an pre-order for the album: https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/fotoform/horizons