posted: Feb 26, 2006 category: Reviews


With Atomica, Christ Analogue's Wade Alin and singer Lauren Cheatham have created perhaps the first trip-hop project truly worthy of being compared to Portishead. The similarities are apparent from the laid-back bass groove of opening track "One Day in New York City" to the slow rhythmic throb of "Gun," but Atomica are no slavish imitators. Where Portishead was minimal and beat-driven, letting the vocals carry the melody while the programmed parts confined themselves to the drums and bass line, Alin is much less reticent to add interesting instrumental arrangements. For example, "Larsen" incorporates lush arrangements of sampled strings, while "Salt" adds a hint of vibraphones for a jazzier feel. "Recent," one of Metropolitan's most achingly bittersweet pieces, adds bluesy guitar riffs to the vintage fuzz and electric organs, while "Pollen" and the exquisite "Sorrow" focus on soft piano. Cheatham's contributions as lyricist are also essential to Atomica's distinctiveness, ranging from the concrete melancholy of urban landscapes in "Delorian" to the surreal but evocative wordplay on "Quiver." About as far as can be from Alin's work in Christ Analogue, Atomica is just as intense, albeit in a much subtler way, and Metropolitan is no less than a musical masterpiece. This is mandatory listening for anyone with an interest in trip-hop, chill-out music, and down-tempo grooves.

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Metropolitan @ shopPOSI

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