A Journal Of The Dark Arts
It’s all about the little things on Travis Thatcher’s most recent synth-driven odyssey for Woodford Halse!
Let’s be real… for the most part the last almost 2 years have been shit. While we could waffle on and find bright points, a lot of days it’s hard to get out of bed at all, let alone function, let alone have a sunny, constructive outlook on life and the world. And yet, somehow, Charlottesville, Virginia’s Travis Thatcher has done precisely that. Even better, he’s captured these feelings on tape using a battalion of modified analog synths and equipment.
Travis Thatcher was first inspired to write Gratitude after losing Winston, their family dog. Instead of wallowing in grief and despair, Thatcher was filled with a profound thankfulness for the extra hours he got to spend with Winston during his last days. Instead of focusing on the loss he was, instead, filled with gratitude for the extra hours he got to spend with his magical pup.
The rest of Gratitude quickly fell into place once the idea was fully formed, with Travis Thatcher ruminating and reflecting on the things which give his life meaning and joy, like spending time with his wife Alicia and repairing analog gear, all of which were then laid straight-to-tape on a Tascam 388. This is no “set it and forget it” electronica, though, Thatcher’s quaint, curious analog electronics are then layered with saxophone, guitar, some live drumming, even little bits of vocals from time to time, giving Gratitude a frosty Eno-esque synthpop feel from time to time like on “Azalea,” one of Gratitude‘s standout tracks.WF 35 – Gratitude by The Voice of Saturn
Those who appreciate listening to archaic electronics will get the most mileage out of Gratitude. Anyone who blisses out over the glassy, icy futurism of a Yamaha DX-7 or quivers in ecstasy over the overdriven circuits of a MiniMoog filter will spill some juices over Thatcher’s handmade, home-modified Voice of Saturn synthesizers.
Of course, all of the back story and philosophy in the world won’t matter a lick if the music’s not good – this is a cassette tape not a philosophy lecture. Have no fear, Gratitude more than stands up on its musical merits alone, with catchy melodies, driving basslines, and fastidious drum programming. Its just that the analog nature of this music lends itself to repetition and getting lost in the details. The songs themselves tend to be made up of a sum of small, moving parts – hypnotic basslines and starry synths, all driven by some mid-80s post-EBM polyrhythms. The end result is like some impossibly intricate mechanism – a model of some distant galaxy or a precisely machined Swiss motor, that you will want to gaze at in hypnotic wonder for hours upon days on end.
The songs themselves tend to be made up of a sum of small, moving parts – hypnotic basslines and starry synths, all driven by some mid-80s post-EBM polyrhythms. The end result is like some impossibly intricate mechanism – a model of some distant galaxy or a precisely machined Swiss motor, that you will want to gaze at in hypnotic wonder for hours upon days on end.
Travis Thatcher and the always-impeccable Woodford Halse label are doing the good work, reminding us to turn our faces to the sunshine during these dark times. We will get through this and inspired, inspiring art like Gratitude make that so much more manageable and possible during challenging times.
Gratitude is out now on cassette via Woodford Halse, with die-cut sleeve and cigarette card art by Chris Daresta
ig: @recompasThe Voice of Saturn bandcamp