(from left) Jon Cox, Genevieve DeGroot (Sadurn) and Heather Jones (Ther) | photo by Amelia Swain | courtesy of the artist
Dead Definition reissues Sadurn / Ther Split EP, a treasure from 2019
When we might need it most, Sadurn and Ther’s split EP returns this month on Dead Definition. Recorded in a West Philadelphia basement on 2018’s winter solstice, then released a month later, the tape intertwines the talents of Heather Jones and Genevieve DeGroot, whose projects Ther and Sadurn have brought our city so many treasures in the six years past – Jon Cox, another local who records as Mother Moses, contributes as well. Their collaboration comes to life again on new cassettes, remastered by Jones at So Big Auditory. All proceeds go to a mutual aid fund organized by members of CBTEL, providing rent support for Black trans people in Philadelphia.
These songs crept into me quietly when I first heard them, and now they’re even more beautiful remembered. The tape is tender in its brevity, and deeply worthwhile. Trading writing duties from track to track, Jones and DeGroot untangle deep vulnerabilities rooted in their detailed past, which here feels shared even if, when it first happened, it wasn’t: “I wonder if our father is still weighted down with guilt / from the failure of a baby gate he didn’t even build.” Their two voices sometimes sound like more, or otherwise like one, laced together over the clip of the strings, body creaks and cleansing finger strums. (DeGroot’s baritone ukulele touch is a highlight, too.)
The opening hypnotic, lovable, and tight “Face II” stays with me and will, as much as any song I know, make you miss looking at humans up close. The tracklist has a friendly pace and a logic, from the quick pull of “Advil” into the skip of “Dirt May.” And even the voicemail is welcome that dislodges the red herring “???,” from a Farmer’s Insurance agent, for Jonathan. Finally, the slow dance of “April in Paris” begins, which makes me want to let everything go and I always hope lasts forever – I love, too, that this song comes in the same key as its predecessor.
Find Sadurn / Ther Split remastered online now, with Dead Definition’s official reissue on May 21st but sales beginning Bandcamp Friday, May 7th, with the label covering all US shipping costs. Find more about Philadelphia’s Coalition for Black Trans Economic Liberation at CBTEL.org. Sadurn’s last release was 2019’s Gleam, while Ther’s was “swimming” from last month.