Walt Thisney
Saxtanic EP






To be perfectly frank right from the get-go, there is a quasi-problem Walt Thisney faces in the wake and aftermath of Vaporwave’s success, either by enchanting the increasing amount of bedroom producers or by arousing the volatile minds of its antagonists. Both viewpoints are valid, for if there existed such an idea or concept that is universally loved, why should it be the V-genre of all things? Turns out that this genre is expelled more often than not in Thisney’s productions after all. The cheekily named synthesist from Lisbon, Portugal is equally fond of tone sequences, instruments and augmentations that are to be found in 60’s Exotica, Surf music and similar styles. Alas, that’s at least 20 years beyond the scope of today’s synth-driven productions, Thisney’s own included, and that’s where the aforementioned quasi-problem comes into play when the four-track Saxtanic EP is taken into account. Released through the Thisco label and available for free at Bandcamp, here we have the aural vision of a cozy retirement home with hardly any danger ever resurfacing from the nearby ocean. This is not meant as an insult at all, the opposite is true: Thisney breaks out from the synth-driven outrun ergosphere, leaves the gravitational redshift of his aural agent thrillers behind and dives deep into a guitar/bongo/string flume that will probably always be seen as inferior to the artist’s cinematically complex anthems, but can enthrall and soothe the mind effectively. Here’s a meticulous look at Walt Thisney’s summer haçienda, here’s to the Saxtanic EP.


There are songs, vignettes and mere interludes out there that are too short; their aural allure texture- or melody-wise doesn’t match the runtime and might even be degraded by the latter. Not so Walt Thisney’s opener Saxtanic which seems to be important enough to become the EP’s eponymous fascia. After an ultra-short guitar anacrusis, a vibraphone-driven punctilio pulsates around legato synth ventiducts, ligneous clicks and electric bass undercurrents. And that’s already the basic gist of this little sparkler below the mark of two minutes. In lieu of Thisney’s occasionally – but nonetheless tastefully – histrionic synth adventures, this gateway is based in the land of Exotica, or to be more precise: limewashed lounge. It is no masterstroke by the definition of the genre it is situated in, but an accretive telomere regardless. The adjacent Nymph shows much better what the multi-instrumentalist is really aiming at: rotoscoping arpeggio fusillades of the synthetic kinds, multinucleate Italo/Trance piano, stuttering swooshes and apoplectic drum blebs merge into a nocturnal neon nematode, spawning a bustling upper midtempo groove and unexpectedly silkened chord progressions. The balance is kept at all times, metallicity and plasticity are the respective epicenters. Watch out for the last third where the backing harmonies become aeriform, longitudinal… and lift off entirely.


The third track is called Beuty (no typo) and succumbs to the land of fairy tales and saccharified pizzicato strings. Played in elasticized 3/4 fashion and chock-full of triangle-accentuated string jitters, seraphic Hammond organ veils and a set of guitar-related cornerstones, Walt Thisney takes the listener back into the 60’s by coming up with a ditty that is both tremendously catchy and insouciant. If the whole song is taken into account, it is astonishing how positively schmaltzy and tacky it purposefully is, almost crossing the boundaries to elevator/lift muzak and Vaporwave vestibules, but lacking the tongue-in-cheek edge of the latter genre against all odds, preferring to gyre around the superresonance of BGM treasures such as Pilotwings 64 and flamencofied piñata albums displayed at gas stations in Tulsa. The finale meanwhile comes in the shape of Lust and it keeps the pace by absorbing the mellifluous hue of a crimson-red sunsetscape and merges it with the aural apprehension of ultramafic guitar licks, their funkier bass brethren and bongo-underlined coppice vesicles. The soothing distance isn’t even caulked at all, but let in via viridian panpipes and ocean-resembling whooshes. Beatless segues make for a circumambience of contemplation and round off a capsule that ostracizes life’s vicissitudes and ebullient emotions in favor of that mellow beach vista.


With the exception of the volatile flaring as depicted in the four-to-the-floor fibroblast Nymph, the Saxtanic EP is a smooth, polished and ultimately blurry affair, what with its paradisiac notions, lounge nodes and susurrant-oneiric visions. The warmth of the plastic sunbeams radiates through every diffractive crack, but it doesn’t translate into stacked synth epitomes, and that’s the big revelation the EP can unfold for fans of Walt Thisney. Instead of grafting one texture over the other and thereby creating a superimposition of California vibes, Hermosa Beach memorabilia or Latinized conquests, the Lisbon-based artist creates calorific benignancy via the instrument’s – or synth patches’ – surface and reflection. Even when the spectacle is prudently kept at a low level, erethism and wisdom ooze out of every pore and interstice, making the Saxtanic EP some kind of antidote, shelter or even sanctuary in the wild world of blazing Glo-Fi, Vaporwave and adjacent niches. That Walt Thisney himself is also creating the very worlds and inimical demons he is escaping from with this electropositive EP offers comic relief and solace aplenty. Followers of the artist’s nihilistic and cutting edge synth productions might be driven off path, but Exotica and Easy Listening fans might as well obey to the debonair duology as depicted by the Saxtanic EP.


Further listening and reading:

  • The Saxtanic EP is available for free at Bandcamp.
  • Walt Thisney’s Twitter handle: @WalThisney


Vaporwave Review 070: Walt Thisney – Saxtanic EP (2015). Originally published on May 8, 2015 at AmbientExotica.com.