Thunder Body, spearheaded by partner duo and former Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad members Matt O’Brian (drums, vocals) and Rachel Orke (keys), are gearing up to release their new album Solstice through the unique non-profit Rootfire Cooperative on October 13, 2017. Solstice will be the Rochester-based band’s third full-length offering and first under the Rootfire banner. The album was recorded in two sessions, one before, and one after the birth of the couple’s son in 2013. The album explores topics from the micro to the macro. From creating new life, to tuning in with nature, to deeper outlooks on universal spirituality, Solstice finds a beautiful balance between deeply personal reflections and universal themes.
Thunder Body gained a following for their wide range of influences from dub and dancehall, to soul and beyond, and their diverse offerings provide something to appreciate for all music lovers. Joining Orke and O’Brian on Solstice are the talented musicians Jeremiah Pacheco (bass), Dennis Mariano (guitar, vocals), Brian Blatt (sound scientist), Benton Sillick (trumpet), Matt Seiber-Ford (tenor sax), and Abe Nouri (trombone).
Solstice saw Thunder Body returning to the studio More Sound in Syracuse, NY with producer and former bandmate Jocko Randall. The familiar environment allowed for a comfortable working space for ideas to blossom into fruition. The second session saw Rachel and Matt hosting their son’s second month of life around the studio and all it’s tools of creative inspiration. Tonal purists will appreciate the timeless sounds of an authentic Fender Rhodes and the classic comping sounds of the Hammond Organ and Leslie rotary speaker combination. After the second session, Thunder Body entered a deliberate hiatus. The tracks sat on Jocko’s server for two years while Thunder Body was rehearsing into a new sonic direction, playing almost no shows. It wasn’t until revisiting the track in 2015 that the band realized they had an album awaiting a proper release.
Solstice beings with its title track, a message meant to unify opposing perspectives with the reminder that we all share a universal experience. Other songs on the album capture the transformative beauty and significance of bringing new life into the world while nurturing your own and those around you, with “Elliot’s Song” seeing Chris O’Brian of Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad add his take to the theme, discussing the birth of his son. Other standouts include “Gong,” an instrumental full of creative expression and “What’s Sweet About Lemons,” which the band describes as “a subtly surrealist simple song experience.”
Thunder Body carried over the album theme into all aspects of the release. Illustrated and designed by Justyn Lannucci, artist and graphic designer based in Rochester, NY, the album cover art for Solstice plays on the dichotomy of life and the universal themes of nature. The balancing act of night and day is depicted through the soft fade of color across a solstice sky. The cosmic event of the solstice is highlighted by a door that opens to the corresponding worlds of nature - life and death, and more existentially short term and long term mindedness. The door is banked by symbols of a hand and feather, along with a poppy that almost floats through the portal. Justyn comments, “Matt and I were vibing off of some older psychedelic novel covers. And we were trying to let the viewer come up with their own interpretations of the charged symbols. The figures on the bottom of the image may or may not be the band."
Solstice offers a serene experience to its listeners that you won’t want to miss. Be on the lookout for the album, dropping on Rootfire Cooperative, October 13, 2017. The album marks the end of the band’s hiatus, with tour plans in the works. Make sure to follow Thunder Body to stay up-to-date on tour dates and more.