In 1984, a cassette was released on the then-fledgling Projekt Records imprint by an unknown band called Thanatos. Primarily the duo of multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Patrick Ogle and Projekt lead Sam Rosenthal, Thanatos would quickly carve out a cult following over the next decade with a series of wistful, delicate records, including 1993’s This Endless Night Inside and 1995’s sprawling An Embassy to Gaius. Both records walk the line between sparse, acoustic folk, warm ambient soundscapes, and droning electric rock, each a rewarding listen through and through.
Ogle has still been active under the Thanatos moniker, performing live and releasing new music into the new millennium. However, this summer marks the release of Portland, the first release that reunites Ogle and Rosenthal after nearly 25 years and picks up where the An Embassy to Gaius left off. The album is available now in digital format via Projekt’s Bandcamp, with a series of crowdfunding perks that range from signed compact discs, associate producer credits, and mixed media artwork, to name a few. Listen to featured track “Incoming Storm” below:
“Incoming Storm” sets the stage for Portland’s otherworldly beauty. The track begins with softly plucked guitar, reminiscent of The Durutti Column, as Rosenthal’s synths flirt with a high, fragile melody. Ogle’s voice cuts through the textures with a passionate croon, building into a restrained, but powerful passage that recalls Roger Waters’ biting works with Pink Floyd, before boiling over into an arresting electric passage that carries the track through to the end. The track is one of 14, which also includes four covers, ranging from notable influences John Cale and The Velvet Underground to modern 4AD darlings The National. These covers fit in perfectly alongside Thanatos’ brand of atmospheric folk, while tracks such as “A Certain Sense of Collapse” and “I Barely Plan to Feel” rank among the duo’s strongest work. Portland also features two recreations of tracks from This Endless Night Inside, including “Shadowed Sky Now Settled” and “Entangled: Our Bodies,” both which sound right at home on the album.
We had the chance to briefly catch up with Ogle and Rosenthal about the album’s genesis and their extensive partnership over the last 35 years.
Thanatos had many incarnations over the years, with a variety of band members. From a straight ahead rock band with screeching electric guitars, to sensitive acoustic-based music like Portland. What brought you back to this sound again?”
Pat: The acoustic nature of the music never went away. All the records are based around acoustic guitars. What did go away on a couple of records was electronics. Blisters, I Am Not Job, Exterminating Angel and Coyote in the Graveyard HAVE keyboards and electronics but they are not really front and center. This is what Sam brings to the table and it really changes the sonic backbone of the music.
It’s been 25 years since you recorded with Sam. Was it hard to get back into that groove?
Pat: Recording with Sam was seamless. I come in with my parts… bing bang BOOM… done… then I sit on the couch and listen to Sam add his stuff… occasionally yelling “thats great” … or “what about a marimba sound”? He probably has headphones on so he can ignore me.
Sam: I never wear headphones, but I do ignore some of those suggestions (laughs).
What is the biggest mistake you think you made as an artist? What would you change?
Pat: I make the same mistake a lot. I have overly grand ideas for what I want to do that are impossible for me to DO. I want to get friends from all over who are musicians to be on something. I want to add a symphony to a track… stuff like that. With me and Sam working? This doesn’t happen. I always say, with regard to music and everything else in life, the only thing I’d change is I would work harder and be nicer to folks.
As mentioned, Portland is now currently available via Bandcamp, with a series of perks and physical media options up for grabs. Check below for the full album artwork, track listing, and pre-order links.
3. Bloodbuzz Ohio (The National cover)
4. A Certain Sense of Collapse
5. Cathedral Song (Tanita Tikaram cover)
6. I Barely Plan To Feel
7. I’ll Be Your Mirror (Velvet Underground cover)
8. Hearts Like Ours
9. Half Past France (John Cale cover)
10. Entangled Our Bodies
11. The Shattered Sky Now Settled
12. Incoming Storm
Digital and physical pre-orders available via Bandcamp