For Denton's Robert Gomez, the hardest part of recording Ormonde's debut album, Machine, out last week on Hometapes, was living with another person.
"It wasn't just working with someone," he says of his latest musical partner, Anna-Lynne Williams of Seattle's Lotte Kestner and Trespassers William. "We're cooking dinner, or going to the grocery store or the gas station. We're just always together."
The making of Machine was a self-imposed arranged marriage of sorts. When they decided to record a project together, they also decided that it should be done in a neutral place, with no distractions. So, they rented a house in Marfa and moved there for a month.
Gomez first met Williams in Denton while both were working on John Grant's Queen of Denmark. Their friendship grew over frequent texting in the following weeks, and when Gomez followed Matthew and the Arrogant Sea to Seattle for a show, the pair made plans to hang out. Eventually, they decided they needed to work together.
"I just kept telling myself, 'I want to be in a band with this person,'" Gomez says. "I want to write songs with her." For Williams, the collaboration felt just as natural.
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"We were both going through some tough periods in our lives at the time, and I was looking for something different," she says. "When Robert mentioned working together, I would have probably said no in any other time of my life, but this was just what I was looking for."
Instead of creating something new, they achieve something rare. Machine showcases Gomez's chamber pop sensibilities while also allowing us to peer into Williams' delicate darkness. It's an album that's challenging at first, because as it progresses it keeps you hanging on for that one upbeat song. Instead, the album plods along one gorgeous mid-tempo song at a time, daring you to look past the surface.
Both are solo artists and control every aspect of their individual projects, so this required concessions on both parties. "I tend to be an alpha male," Williams laughs. "But it was so easy here. I think I've been waiting my whole life for someone to come along who I would let take over a little bit. But I wouldn't let most people have as much say in a project as Robert."
"...With this, we're very much equals and I've never worked like that," Gomez says. "It's interesting to explore that, because I never have... It's pretty fascinating, these artistic connections. It's not really friendship, but it kinda is. It's something else."