SA Sound Q&A: Trip the Light Synth Master Anthony Burchell

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San Antonio’s Trip the Light is the ambient-electronic project of Anthony Burchell. Brooding and moody synths and synthetic drums come together in this music to create a listening experience that is overflowing with feeling and serenely multi-textured. The fourth Trip the Light release, Cosmic, finds Burchell perfecting his knack for bass heavy music you can dream to. The soundscapes on Cosmic (released back in April) are challenging at times and very easily intuited at others. The bright darkness at the core of the songs wards off any feeling of sterility that can sometimes plague electronic music. The compositions succeed in shrugging off the precision that is inherent in their creation and they become something alive and unique to each listener. You can find your vibe with this music, whether you’re shutting down for the night or turning up. Burchell talked to the Current recently about Cosmic, his live show, and the new album he’s already got in the works. You can read that interview below and get all of the Trip the Light albums at tripthelightwonderful.com.

The Current: Tell me the "story" behind Trip the Light and Cosmic. What is your driving motivation with this project and album? What are your thematic aims? 

Anthony Burchell: “Cosmic was an appropriately named journey for me. I stayed on the theme of my previous album (Galactic) and further explored my perceived idea of the sounds of space. Not so much in the literal sense, "this is the noise in space," but more in the sense that this is what is happening up there — organized chaos.”

Current: There are organic, natural moments on the album where we almost forget this is an electronic record. Tell me about the process of translating human feeling through technology.

Burchell: I appreciate this question. The comment has been made many times that there's an organic feel in my music. That is a great bulk of my intent when writing a song: Synthetic Organic. If I don't feel like an emotion is conveyed through the song it is usually scrapped. It needs to take me somewhere, and in the case of Cosmic it took me out of this world.

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Current: What's the set up when you perform live? What are your upcoming shows?

Burchell: It's hard to answer that because I usually never play a show with the same set up. I make a strong effort to perform every show differently in some big way. Recently I've been focusing on the visual aspect of the performance. As far as instruments, I never know what I'm playing with. In 2012 I would haul numerous synthesizers, a guitar, a guitar cab filled with television sets, and a Rhodes piano... Needless to say it was a hassle to set that up in 10 minutes by myself. It took its toll on the sound due to the lack of time to set it up right. Recently I've condensed. It's made a considerable difference in the quality of the performance. It's definitely a good difference.

Current: Who are your greatest inspirations in your creation?

Burchell: Boards of Canada has been a driving inspiration in my music since I started. “Dayvan Cowboy” is by far the most beautiful piece of music I've heard. I aspire to one day reach the perfect balance of earth and space they achieved in that one. Some other influences are Traducer, Daed, Panda Bear, Tycho, Terry Riley, and the Wave Race 64 soundtrack.

Current: Any new material in the works yet? Do you have plans to ever record with any vocalists? Would you like the idea? 

Burchell: I'm actually wrapping up my next release Oceanic. This is definitely a new direction in my music and I feel it will be a welcome change. There’s less focus on the spacey chaos and more focus on structure and melodies. I'm exploring the deep blue sea in this one.

As far as vocalists, since I started exploring sound I wanted nothing more than to make music with vocals. On my first EP (Fantastic) almost every song had vocals. Looking back, it didn't work. The more I think of it the more I feel the problem wasn't that I didn't have the ability to mesh with the music — I just really had nothing interesting to say.  I pulled away from vocal-heavy music considerably. Oceanic as I see it now, will be a strictly instrumental album. When I find something meaningful to say, I'll say it. Until then I want to take listeners to a new place in their mind.

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