At every overpriced, multistage music festival in the world, there is a point somewhere on those sprawling, litter-covered grounds where you can stand and hear every act on every stage at the same time. The effect is jarring, disorienting and very much like the cacophony heard on the latest album from Burlington bedroom pop/EDM wizard thayerperiod.
Would You Trade Your Hands for Wings? is both an inspiring and an exhausting listening experience. All the indulgences that shaped thayerperiod’s 2021 project, Sheep in Wolf’s Clothes, are pushed even further: the solid walls of carefully sequenced synthesizers and samples, the dive-bombing dubstep and glitch breaks crashing in out of nowhere and, most especially, the war on conventional song structure.
Yet this is hardly outsider art. It is straight-up pop music, even if the earworms are often buried beneath a billion plug-in effects. The album only grows more compelling as it progresses, because thayerperiod’s audacious sonic experiments are grounded in his mastery of craft.
Over the past few years, thayerperiod has amassed an online following for both his music and his prolific video content exploring the intricacies of music production and sound design. For most artists, the digital audio workstation is only a means to an end, but for him, it’s a musical instrument.
Would You Trade Your Hands for Wings? is thayerperiod’s most virtuoso performance so far, stuffed with more ideas than most artists muster in entire careers. The prescription amphetamine pace with which he aims and fires those ideas at the listener will, no question, alienate those with less adventurous ears. Such is art.
What stands out the most in this album is thayerperiod’s growing confidence in the oldest of instruments: his own voice. The young polymath is blessed with a perfect set of pipes for emo lamentations and places his vocals front and center more often.
The result is his most human album yet. That human is peaking on boutique psychedelic drugs in a video game arcade, surely, but thayerperiod’s songwriting has matured considerably over the past year. He is evoking feelings and ideas rather than simply stating them. “Ode to Summer” and “Tourniquet” are both cinematic standouts, conjuring powerful images with remarkably few words.
That said, the music itself remains uncompromising, almost confrontational. Opener “Selfless Savior” is pure vertigo, alternating bursts of white noise, gothic organs and the skeleton of a synth-pop single. “Powerless” and “Hand Drum” would be catchy, full-on summer jams in less ambitious hands, but thayerperiod deconstructs them into, well, something like Aphex Twin and Death Grips having a jam session with Sean Lennon.
If you’re ready for all that, my friends, this album is a rare treat. In the neon wastelands where half a dozen genres collide, thayerperiod is carving out a sound all his own, and it’s some of the most wildly creative music coming out of Vermont.
Would You Trade Your Hands for Wings? is available on Soundcloud and Spotify.