Over five albums fronting Gum, not to mention the nine he’s made as co-leader of psych cosmonauts Pond, Watson’s restless imagination has treated us to some of the most sonically diverse explorations of the past decade. On Saturnia, however, these visions have coalesced into the richest, but also the most coherent work of Watson’s career to date.
While most people tend to know Jay Watson as the touring drummer for Tame Impala and once drummer now guitarist/synth player for Pond, Aussie psych-rock fanatics will be quick to recognise Watson as his side moniker, Gum.
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Having released solo albums as Gum for the past decade, Watson is no stranger to the creative spotlight. Although, while a fan-favourite of Tame and Pond enthusiasts, his previous five efforts have often fallen more into sleeper-hit territory. They don’t quite make the impact they should upon release, to then be regarded as favourites of the psych scene years later. This is especially given the fact under Gum, Watson has maintained a quality largely lost in the inspired work Pond and Tame have delivered over recent years (9, The Slow Rush).
Saturnia takes this to another level. Through combinations of the laid-back bedroom-made aesthetic that made the world fall in love with psych-rock in the early 2010’s, 70’s prog-rock freak and futuristic synth-pop sparkle, Saturnia hones in on the stylistic juxtapositions of modern psych and marries it with elements of some of rock and folk’s finest icons.
From the Jethro Tull-esque freak-out of ‘Argentina’, to the electro-pop jazz changeup of ‘Would It Pain You…’, to the Young meets Zeppelin guitar harmonisations of ‘Real Life’, Saturnia maintains a timeless nature that lends from both old and new, while still offering up something completely its own.
It’s brooding and sombre, yet also strikingly beautiful in equal measure.
Label: Spinning Top Records
Release date: 15 September