Agitated Atmosphere: Tim Hecker, Chris Abrahams, Dreamboat, D.K.

Agitated Atmosphere, Album Reviews
04/08/2016
Justin Spicer

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound locally, regionally and globally.

Another month, and long time readers (thanks to all seven of you) knew who would lead us off: Tim Hecker. A perennial Agitated Atmosphere favorite returns with his latest opus. But not to be outdone, new work from Chris Abrahams, non-supergroup Dreamboat, and the after-the-dancehall soul of D.K..Tim Hecker - Love Streams(4AD; LP/CD/DL)

Hecker’s is a music separate from the conceit of time. Though very much the result of the immediate present, it flow continuously unattached from our timeline. Only now does the weight and clarity of Harmony in Ultraviolet seem to finally be reaching a crescendo. Love Streams is that rise, colliding timelines together in a science fiction melding of hearts and minds. I know, as creatures of senses, we search for an article, a sound, a visual that encapsulates our emotions at any given state. Considering the animosity of bubbling in North America against a great divide on many so-called identifiers, Love Streams is a much needed hand from the past, present and future to quickly grab us from the ether and make us take notice of the what-ifs. It’s a mixed medium of styles and sounds, further launching Hecker out of the gravitational pull of our Earth and into a Mach 5 wormhole where notes and compositions non-existent on this plane come into being as a means to rectify the rifts and tears we’re causing in space-time by our current actions. At first, Love Streams was just another Hecker joint that caused re-evaluation of his canon until this point in time. But then time began to fracture and fall away, and Hecker has turned into something more. Whether he’s a living monolith or the portal itself, Love Streams is a warning I shall heed. And an album that won’t have its most profound impact until love truly flows unfettered from each of us.

Chris Abrahams - Fluid to the Influence(Room40; LP/CD/DL)

Fluid to the Influence yields for nothing, not even Abrahams’ own furious whims. As quick to buzz saw through a concrete block as it is to rest peacefully in the middle of a voracious demonstration, Fluid to the Influence is a splayed version of Abrahams’ wit and guile. The way he purposely butchers what we accept as modern composition, to create something even further removed from a world that still relates the idea of composition to the classical (and even orchestral) world. Yet the splintered bits of hardened mix, gravel and grit that pox Fluid to the Influence is a needed shot to a field finally being recognized and revered for what it can be rather than what it was. Piano is still a singular instrument capable of brilliant emotional flourishes, but in this mechanized and mobilized world of information saturation, Abrahams has captured noise pollution as it naturally rests in our personalized moments of Zen. It’s no wonder, considering as one-third of The Necks, Abrahams is well current mood. Which, apparently, is the sound of the world falling apart.

Dreamboat - Dreamboat(MIE; LP)

Rarely do collaborations break down the participants to a point where the results become symbiotic. Though the instrumental contributions of Ilyas Ahmed, Matt Carlson and Jonathan Sielaff (the latter two collectively knowns as Golden Retriever) can still be picked apart through Dreamboat’s self-titled debut, the ideas therein cannot be deciphered so easily. Ahmed has often inhabited a haze; Carlson and Sielaff have often been the sun beating down on Mercury, evaporating any inclination of atmosphere for clear, spatial views. So it’s no wonder Dreamboat seems to be the best name for this outcome: Ahmed the foggy pilot aboard a vibrating ship of glass constructed by Carlson and Sielaff. The vessel bobs and weaves in and out of the dense Venus carbon dioxide-sulfuric acid clouds before bypassing Earth’s rotting ozone entirely. The result is an identified object constructed of remnants forged into the strongest and fastest starship to rip through the Milky Way straight through the Kessel Run with little turbulence to enjoy star dust gathering around once atmosphere-less masses.

D.K. - Island of Dreams(Antinote; LP/DL)

Somewhere along the way, I feel into the sinkhole of French music. It began innocently enough with a slight crush on Alizée and Vanessa Paradis, but it grew into an exploration of what France had to offer outside pop, chanson and dance. As Europe seems to be once again exploring the rhythms of house, trance and techno, the psychedelic warping of those genres began to catch my ear – especially French label Antinote, whose roster has long bent and stretched those sounds into genres once unfit for such melodies. Island of Dreams is as translucent and tranquil as its title, turning dance beats into cool beach breezes and 80’s nu-pop romances. It’s one of the rare “pop” albums that I feel would be better suited on a weirdo American label such as Orange Milk or Field Hymns, yet I would hate to rob Antinote of its strong curation. D.K. is a label treasure and Island of Dreams is the sort of hypnotic, after party slow jam missing from jittery, rave-after-the-rave setlists that seek to keep partygoers in the thralls of exercise than true ecstasy. Should you find a soulmate (or at least someone you deem as more than just a cute, warm body) after the sweatin’ the club oldies is done, D.K. has the suave transition you need to gently ease into the sunrise of the new day while still embracing the romance of the night before.

Justin Spicer is the editor of Cerberus at Tiny Mix Tapes and contributes to global online and print publications. You can follow him and his work via Twitter.

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