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"If I Had" is the debut single from Maggie Thornton a.k.a. Sky Civilian.
After a decade of orchestral French horn playing, Maggie Thornton spent her first humble paycheck as a music theory teaching assistant on a pocket mono-synthesizer. Using only this synth, a piano, her voice, and an 8-track recorder she produced 3 tracks that set the tone for her productions to come. The focus was on vocal sweetness, compositional simplicity, and rich, layered analog tones.
This initial demo landed her a gig performing at a fundraising gala to open a multi-media art exhibition in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This gig almost immediately turned into a full-time job actually creating the exhibition, called the House of Eternal Return.
Four years after she returned to the drawing board with the intent to create a more complex and coherent body of work under the name Sky Civilian. After a solid year of production, she has completed her debut EP, set for release in 2019 on Atomnation.
Her new productions evoke a lust for the future and the far-away, but she grounds this lofty mood in familiar territory, with nostalgic, detuned synth instrumentation and four-on-the-floor percussion. Her weightless, almost-whispered vocals capture a hyper-natural feeling. The overall lyrical message is one of raw sincerity, as listeners confront unmistakable themes of loss and longing. Strange yet playful vocal production techniques grant the work a subtle pop tilt.
I had the privilege to see Four Tet live in Amsterdam around 2018. I must have missed this album, because it was missing in the other 8 albums I already have. And what a find. Sometimes Four Tet needs some time to appreciate, but this album is very open and friendly. PlayItLoud!