03 May, 2008

Flirtation Device

ATMOSPHERE is a hip-hop duo dropping beats and rhymes from the Twin Cities. For over ten years Slug and Ant have been making music that's rhythmically, melodically, and intellectually pleasing. Probably best known for the smashing album You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having, the duo just dropped their most recent full-length - When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold - in April. I am listening to neither album right now, but instead I've decided to invest my ears in the latest Sad Clown, Bad Spring #12 extended play. Comprised of five amazing tracks, the extended play is just an appetizer for a listener new to ATMOSPHERE, and a delicious dessert for longtime fans.

"Less One" is the first song, and it starts with a bumping computerized bass effect that reverbs against some heavy brass. The backing track reminds me of a car horn in the rain, and Slug follows the line with his soft but strong vocals. The storytelling is hypnotizing, as Slug narrates the story of conflict between a cop and the driver he pulls over. He's a skilled writer, and an attentive listener can imagine the entire scenario, putting faces to personalities and living inside the story for a good 3:44.

"Good Daddy" is a gorgeous story of the connection between a father and baby, that pops with jazzy horn floating behind the rhythm. It is the consideration applied to the smallest details of this song that make it so beautiful. For example, there's a line about the father never knowing any lullabies, and instead singing Stevie Wonder.

"Carry Me Home" is steady and has elements of blues, gospel, and soul music. The sentiment is a careful combination of human frustration, resignation, and regret. It is another story about hard times, but most of all it revolves around the people who fail because you succeed, the people who succeed because you fail, and that overwhelming feeling of exhaustion from all of the highs and lows that makes you crave home.

"Happymess" is the only song that I did not particularly enjoy on the first listen. Slug's voice sounded grating, and his tone somewhat angry and inappropriate. On second listen, I started to find the groove and the excitement and thankfulness. Excitement at finding a woman who will love him unequivocally; and thankfulness that she is patient and forgiving even when he fucks up big time.

"Not Another Day" is my favorite song on the extended play, and I found a live video (which I've posted below) that will tell you everything you need to know about this song. Let me just write that in one extended play, ATMOSPHERE has created more excellent songs than most bands will create in their entire careers. Hip-Hop isn't dead, it's alive and it's really coming into its own as a multifaceted genre. ATMOSPHERE is pushing the genre along, one song at a time.

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