For me (and if you’re reading this blog, probably you too), heavy music has always been my safe haven of emotional release. There is something very purifying about being crushed by super-low guitars and hammering drums, or sweating and smashing your feelings out in the pit. Yet that sense of visceral, personal catharsis can be found in every type of music, and that is exactly the experience passed on by the new self-titled EP from experimental electronic act Therapy Sunday.
The progeny of multi-instrumentalist Jon Benham (Foxtails), Therapy Sunday is an overflowing fountain of musical textures and styles, all spliced and sorted to create compelling and evocative tracks. Emotional synth melodies collide with low-end growls and tinny chiptune tones. Rapid-fire clicks and snare pops in the percussion suggest a definite trap influence, yet moments like the blasts of claps in “Irony Curtain” feel like a grindcore beat converted into electronic impulses. Behind it all, swells of reversed chords and dissonant textures coalesce and collide like distant crashes, sounds you hope are fireworks but fear are bombs.
With electronic music, it can be easy to assume the artist just lines up all their samples and MIDI tracks, mashes the play button, and lets the song work itself out. But for Therapy Sunday, no element is insignificant, no sound overlooked. These songs do away with the idea of a hook or recurring melody, instead allowing the textures to twist and mutate through the song space like a living organism. The basslines evolve as they move: what starts as a powerful walking line becomes gritty half-note hits, followed by an aggressive melody to counter the higher synths. Even the percussion receives attentive and inventive composition, so that no beat or pattern ever gets stuck looping at the bottom of the track.
Even more impressive is the sheer variety of textures and tones on this record. Every track employs its own sound palette to evoke vastly different feels and emotions. The opening of “Don’t Bother with That” pits pretty, melancholic guitar loops against a vicious and angry bass tone, calling to mind the experimental compositions of satanstompingcaterpillars and Tobacco. Explosive overdriven synths mix with strange vocal tones in “Loss of Passion/Possession Envy” to create a ravespace perfect for manic dancing and strobes. “What Sound Does a Fall of Troy Make?” winds 8-bit melodics into a maelstrom of orchestral samples and spooky Castlevania chords.
Therapy Sunday sounds like a teeming garden with all the flowers and plants blooming at once. Though some of the tracks explore the shadow sides of sound, overall this record oozes bright tones and complex rhythms that are captivating and evocative. The dynamics of the songs mimic the rise and fall of the soundwaves themselves, so that every moment of tension is met with a cathartic exhale. And in such mentally-grueling, stressful times as these, we could all benefit from a little musical healing.
There is undeniably something therapeutic about listening to these compositions grow in your ears, and as I learned, that’s the very reason Therapy Sunday exists. Keep reading below to check out a quick interview with Jon, the mastermind composer behind this project.
My Top Track: “ts5”
Who/what were your influences in writing this record?
Aphex Twin, Crystal Castles and Nine Inch Nails are the artists who inspired me. But in order to give credit where it is due, I want to thank my fiancé/bandmate and other friends past and present for encouraging me to explore electronic music.
What kind of gear did you use on this release? The textures and elements in each song are so varied, yet blended in a very beautiful and effective way.
I bought a variety of plugins, most notably Massive, to create my synth sounds. The song with guitar is paying homage to what was once my main instrument. I recently bought a couple synths and want to use them in future releases, though.
There appears to be a definite theme of mental health in this EP’s song titles, as well as the name of the overall project and the look of the Bandcamp page. Did this theme play into the composition of the EP? If so, how?
Therapy Sunday is just that… This project was originally named and conceived on a Sunday, with the intent for it to act as a therapy. Only recently did I decide to make it a project of serious interest to me.
Your main project Foxtails is no stranger to experimentation in style and sound. Do you feel this record is informed or influenced by Foxtails in any way?
Mostly just conversations about electronic music at band practice. As far as musically, I think this is very distant from Foxtails.
Any plans for a follow-up release?
What about performing live (post-Covid)?
I plan to do live sets where I work with my synths, so these songs will probably never be performed, mostly because it’s impossible to do so without backing tracks.
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