posted: Dec 20, 2005 category: Reviews


...Wade Alin teams up with vocalist Lauren Cheatham to deliver the best blend of modern trip-hop and vintage jazz sensibilities since the debut album by Portishead. While the Portishead comparisons are inevitable, given the scratchy loops and bass-heavy minimalism of "Bittersweet" and the fuzz-laced vocals of "Gun," it's a comparison that sells Alin and Cheatham short, for though their sound can be reminiscent of other trip-hop acts, it's not derivative. For one thing, they're less dependent on rhythm, and those tracks that emphasize the drum section sound very organic. Album opener "One Day In New York City," for example, propels its languid bass line along with clattering cymbals, while "Recent" is achingly beautiful despite a lack of percussion, with Cheatham's lonely voice slithering among soft fuzz, electric piano and the occasional bluesy guitar riff. There's also a distinct - if subdued - classical feel to this album, with warm pianos sharing the spotlight with moody strings on "Pollen" while staccato violins bounce along on the comparatively upbeat "Larsen." "Quiver" features a fuller sound, with multiple layers of both organic and electronic atmosphere riding a wave of crashing brass percussion, and highlights Cheatham's evocative lyrical style with such lines as "I've seen myself quiver with a body of toxins." If there's any complaint with this album, it's that it isn't long enough; with eleven tracks, it clocks in at under fifty minutes, but each song is so delicately heartbreaking you could listen to Atomica for three times as long and still not get enough.

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Metropolitan @ shopPOSI

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