As far as side projects go in the jam world, it’s always amazing to hear the music that artists play when creating in a different environment. Whether it’s The String Cheese Incident’s Michael Travis and Jason Hann’s improvised electronic jams while performing as EOTO, Luke Miller of Lotus creating funky electronic disco as Luke the Knife, or when the Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart created soulful world music with Planet Drum, these side projects show the vast musical influences and performance skills of some of our favorite artists.
While producing and performing as EarthCry, Papadosio guitarist/producer/vocalist Anthony Thogmartin creates music with a conscious effort “to heal the planet and its people.” Akin to the creations of his main project, the music of EarthCry is spellbinding and genre defying, blending various musical frequencies with daring instrumental combinations to create something truly unique. His newest musical feat, Sun Path, is a delightfully exploratory venture, with each tune containing completely original sounds and a different vibe between each one.
The beauty of Thogmartin’s music is the organic backbone to it. While most electronic producers rely solely on digital audio workstations like Ableton Live, FL Studio, and Logic among others to create design their sounds, Thogmartin goes out of his way to conceive music that is truly sincerely pure through modular synthesizers. These synthesizers are how electronic music was originally made, and it is a wonderful breath of fresh air for the electronic world.
The release begins with “Where Are You Taking Us,” with nice little subtle synth twangs that morph as the song goes on. It has a nice upbeat feeling to it, while its simplicity adds a very nice organic feeling to it. I love how the synths progress into heavier patches with beautiful oscillating background soundscapes, and then can just drop back into their initial simple form out of nowhere. Also, in true Thogmartin/Papadosio fashion, the sampling of someone talking about humans being the universe and being made up of star stuff stays true to the essence of his creations that we have heard over and over again.
“Peak Parade” has a nice indie pop aura about it. It’s awesome to hear Thogmartin utilize his acoustic guitar for both the melody and the bass line, while cute synths, flute samples and simple percussive sounds just make the whole thing just sound really happy. I’m not sure if it was his intention to give the song a stripped down Latin jazz nature, but it works really well.
The title track “Sun Path” is bright and just overall a gorgeous tune. The dazzling string samples are expertly complemented by deep, glitchy sounds, while the tune’s relaxed tone has a fairly complex undertone to it. The heavily reverbed background noises are just ever so subtle but they do so much for the overall effect of the piece.
Now I’m a sucker for some Middle Eastern influences in music, so to me, “Interdimensional Camel Ride” really takes the cake for me. The strings are brilliantly crafted and just add the perfect Middle Eastern touch to the base loop. Even the percussive noises sound like they were sampled from instruments purchased at some bazaar, while the swampy bass tones towards the final quarter of the tune just really create something special.
Between “Source Codes” and “The Travel Itch,” there is no cut off between the two, which is always really nice to hear and it builds with a deep, ominous tone. This gives way to some really nice Native American styled woodwind sampling that sounds like something you would hear during the sunrise over some long stretch of land, or else that’s what I imagined when I closed my eyes and listened. This cuts into some nicely distorted percussion shots that slowly form a deep, dark beat. Overtime, some light synths begin and those are complemented by this distant low-end sound that tends to just come and go. It’s overall just a gorgeous, glistening tune.
“Kalimbic” provides some of the best sampling for the whole release. It samples a kalimba, which is a wooden board instrument where metal tines are plucked with the fingers to create notes. Whether Thogmartin actually used a legitimate one or used samples, it sounds really clean and it combined with simple bongo and shaker percussion gives it a really nice world music sound. The gritty synths and low-end bass boosters are nice and subtle, but still add a nice modern take to the traditional sounding music. Over time it grows into a really nice and upbeat feel, almost like if techno was made from mostly organic instruments. The half time, bass music cut comes out of nowhere and sounds really cool in its experimental randomness.
Like the two tracks before them, there is no cut between “Kalimbic” and “How Do You Know My Language?” Their nicely drawn together with some wonderful nature sounds from frogs and crickets that progressively lead into awesome distorted kick drums underneath the noises. It has a really nice deep, psychedelic feeling to it with some nice glitchy bass tones and woodwind sampling that sounds a bit like some stripped down Shpongle. This song MUST be listened to with speakers with really kickin’ low end, otherwise you won’t get the song’s full effect.
“3mrw” starts out with a really nice angelic synth pop feel then progressively moves into some nice, organic Kraftwerk reminiscent electronica. This tune is probably one of the most unique tracks on the release, in that it has such an old school electronica vibe to it, most likely due to Thogmartin’s use of analog eurorack synthesizers. These synthesizers were the godfathers of electronic music synthesis, and really allows for music to be created with ultra original sounds.
Short and sweet, “Undula” has a very similar organic structure to the previous song. It kind of sounds like a synthesizer jam session, with nice apreggiated synth sounds, a solid distorted middle tone, and absolutely no percussion.
“Barreling Towards the Galactic” is another exquisite tune, with beautiful orchestral strings with nice vibraphone pads. It’s probably the most bass music reminiscent tracks on the whole real release, with pure sounding bass wobbles that aren’t incredibly in your face, complemented by other glistening, high end percussion and synth sounds. It’s nice to hear how the song breaks to add a new sound after each “chorus,” which is similar to the complex walls of sound that we are used to with Papadosio songs.
Rounding out the release is “It’s Real,” which brings back Thogmartin’s organic acoustic guitar sounds. This one continues on with some of the more world music sounding tunes that he has created, and kind of has a very full band nature to it. With excellent guitar work, dainty percussion, a groovy bass line, and expertly crafted synths, it kind of sounds like something Papadosio could perform live due to it’s similarity to songs like “… and this is what he thought.” Hell the only thing that could make this song better would be full vocals rather than only sampling, though they add a happy, cute touch to it. It’s an overall marvelous way to end the release.
It took Anthony Thogmartin four years to spawn Sun Path, and this time consuming venture culminated into something truly special. This 12-track album goes to show that Thogmartin is becoming one of the most innovative and creative individuals not only in this new wave jam world, but also in the electronic music world as a whole. With upcoming festival dates galore and a September tour with Erothyme, it is exciting to think about how these tunes will sound in a live setting.
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