Harsh Industrial & Playful Electronic
auralgamiSOUNDS – February 3, 2017
ATOMO’s The Evaporated Life is an EP I find myself going back to fairly often – it’s great driving music, work music, or accompaniment-to-just-about-anything music. That release was described as relentlessly optimistic (a fitting description, I think).
Here, ATOMO is paired with another Louisville electronic musician, TonyRobot, whose music is stark contrast to the bubbly beats I had heard before. TonyRobot’s music is in your face, washed in pulsing, distorted synthesizers – even when the synths die down, the beat pounds on in the foreground. On “Doom Stick” the music seems to phase in and out of itself, disorienting the listener and making it difficult to find the top of a phrase. “Death Adder” is my favorite of TonyRobot’s three tracks on the EP – a plodding beat grows until it busts into an echoey wash of moody electronic sounds that would fit perfectly as film music.
ATOMO’s first of three tracks, “When I Met Her Dog,” starts with a palette cleansing chunk of pop organ with no beat before it leaps into a fast-paced, nearly silly tune set around pentatonic tones. ATOMO’s second track is the longest of the EP, a multi-part song called “Tangata Manu: Go Shave Your Head/Sharkbait/Vertigo.” The track is constantly morphing into the next section of the song, interjected with quick spurts of contrasting ideas – the final section is a spacey bit of music and features vocal notes from auralgamiSOUNDS label-mate, Cher Von.
YAWNKILLERS is a quick release with lots of good momentum – TonyRobot and ATOMO play great contrast to each other’s distinct brand of electronic music, and the EP is a fresh, energetic listen from the beginning to the end.
Tracks I Liked: Doom Stick!, Death Adder!!!, When I Met Her Dog!!!, Tangata Manu: Go Shave Your Head/Sharkbait/Vertigo!
Ben Southworth – High Street – March 12, 2017
Poppy Instrumental Electronica
October 2nd, 2015 – auralgami SOUNDS
The Evaporated Life is described on the one-sheet as “relentlessly optimistic,” and I doubt there’s much better a way to describe it. ATOMO is the project of a singular Louisvillian (whose name is omitted from all online materials I could find), and a seemingly new project at that. All the tracks on this album are lengthy enough for them to flesh themselves out pretty well – the shortest of them still spills over the 4:30 mark. Throughout these six works, it’s tough to place when the music is originating from, and I think that’s a good thing – there’s a refreshing mix of aged timbres (buzzing saw synths, sampled drums, and electronic organ) placed within more modern-and-constantly-evolving arrangements, none of which take themselves too seriously. This is definitely stuff you could dance to – perhaps not in the sense of Todd Terje’s driving disco displays (although track three gets close) – but it possesses the same lighthearted mood and nearly romantic atmosphere. I’m happy to see a Kentucky label putting out stuff with such diversity in sound – auralgamiSOUNDS has released garage rock, world-influenced jazz-electronica, improvised noise, and now this – all within the last twelve months, and they’ve all been quality. The Evaporated Life is fun, light, and decidedly enjoyable – I can’t imagine anybody finding it anything less than pleasant and refreshing.
Tracks I Liked: Mirrors!, Dr Waycroft’s upsidedown namepiece!!, its 2015 and i drive a computer!, Ice cream truck paranoid!!
Ben Southworth – October 3rd, 2015 – Mount Horeb
AuralgamiSOUNDS – October 20th, 2014
This EP shouldn’t be so relaxing to listen to as it is. It’s a fairly quick set of eight songs that are super sonically-busy – loops of odd rhythms, muddy time signatures, and strange timbres abound – but Black Blizzard is the kind of album that makes you want to shut your eyes while you listen to it. Even as vocal samples on the first track, “Solar, So Low,” tell you “you don’t have to listen to this, listen to something else,” it’s hard not to get sucked in.
Other songs are tricky in different ways. Upon my first listen to “Solar Flares,” I thought my tape player was cutting out on me, as the first layer kept dropping in and out (turns out it’s just being used to set a sort of tempo for the rest of the track). “Palm Freaks” pairs a really nice groove with some spooky sax lines before it brings in a noisy drum and synth duet – this sudden shift in texture is perhaps my favorite moment of the whole album.
When listening to this, it was difficult not to make some comparisons to Oneohtrix Point Never, but Dominic Republic is definitely its own sound with a different mood – even still, I’d be surprised if there weren’t some influence. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into when I first got this album, but Black Blizzard was definitely one of the fresher and more unique albums I’ve heard in quite some time.
Tracks I Liked: Solar, So Low, Solar Flares, Palm Freaks
Ben Southworth – March 23rd, 2015 – Maxwell and Hagerman
Genre: Fuzzy Electronic Indie-Pop
For an album based on the subject of death, Lexington’s S H O Z O has managed to put together a collection of songs that comes out sounding surprisingly upbeat. Made up of seven songs exploring this central subject, the record manages to address death from a different angle at each track. Be it the loss of a loved one, the forfeit of love, the tragedy of last December’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, or an enfeebling automobile accident for a member of the group (and such for his musical comrades,) the band is perfectly capable of seeing death in nearly every light. The music is heavily electronic, relying much on the keyboarding and programming of Cameron Webster, but is given life from S H O Z O’s remaining members. With distant, but ever-present vocals from Charles Bruin and Justin Miller, and work on the guitar and bass from Miller and Ben Vickers, the band comes together with excellent cohesion. Top it off with a layer of fuzzy distortion, and some additional instrumentation in the form of trombone, cello, and violin and the album comes together with a sense of identity. When the album is over, it’s not just an album about death, but one that tells stories of the band, its members, and the time in which it was written.
Tracks I Liked? (Death Passes listens well as an album, but…) A Certain Terror!, Children of the Night!!, Falling Apart!!!, I Was an Eagle!, Defibrillator!!!, Oh Angel Our Destroyer
Ben Southworth – November 10th, 2013 – Maxwell and Hagermann
Genre: Ambient Electronica/ Quasi-Trance
The label “ambient electronica” is a strange one – one that can really mean a lot of things. I guess, to me, it means the sort of music that is made with electronic components, but doesn’t necessarily make you want to dance. And though this EP didn’t have me on my feet, it definitely had my head bobbing along subconsciously. Chimarra’s first EP, Edge Effects, is a 23-minute collection, made up of glitchy drum beats, samples panned to either side of the head, a slew of different synth sounds, and the mellow tone of a euphonium. At first listen, the album is a lot what you’d expect from an ambient electronic artist – the drum beats, especially, remind me of the fizzy rhythms that made up much of Sufjan Steven’s Age of Adz. There are two major things, though, that give this music a different feeling than most other music in this genre: the feeling of a narrative and followable line of song development, and the euphonium. Taking a look at Chimarra’s Facebook page, he lists “the power and beauty of the natural world” as the inspiration for his music – when taking this into account, it makes it a little easier to understand the feeling of calm narration that much of the music has. The choice to include the sounds of a brass instrument – thrown in selectively on euphonium, rather than a sampled sound on a keyboard – is definitely interesting, and it gives the music some really nice dissonance and color. The album definitely rides the line into trance music – it’s pretty meditative and it conveys its ties to the tranquility of nature very well.
Tracks I Liked: Cave Patterns!!!, North of the Light!, Timestream!!
– Ben Southworth – Lexington, Kentucky – May 21, 2013