Agitated Atmosphere: Mist – Mist

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 shed a bit of light and share a bit of information on the up and coming sounds of artists such as Mist.

It was mere weeks ago when Agitated Atmosphere spent a column gushing upon the latest vinyl from Cleveland trio, Emeralds. Fans of the group are well aware of each principle’s excursions into solo territory; each inundating a crowded scene with some of the best synth and guitar recordings of the new DIY. However, often lost in the shuffle of accolades for Mark McGuire and Steve Hauschildt is equal recognition for Emeralds’ third member: John Elliott.

This year has been particularly kind to Elliott as he’s made lasting impressions with his solo releases under the name Imaginary Softwoods as well as his collaborations with Cleveland’s other ambient impresario, Sam Goldberg. The duo, who functions as Mist, greased the wheel for their first vinyl offering with the 20-minute cassette, Certain Expansion. The title clearly gave away the ambitions of Goldberg and Elliott, which is why we are here staring at their self-titled LP via Amethyst Sunset.

Listen to “Rope” now:

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As Mist might imply, the songs of John Elliott and Sam Goldberg are gentle droplets of synth mana cascading over the hard morning ground. Yet however gentle Mist may be in delivery, don’t confuse the results as a form of fragility. The A-side is dominated by “Taking the Mist,” which rolls out wave after wave of soothing sci-fi. The 13-minute opener revels in its uneven meter, switching up pulsating rhythms for melodramatic whispers and casual reassessments. Elliott and Goldberg don’t shy away from flexing their muscle but as any good showmen, they grasp the concept of restraint. This idea is carried onto the album’s B-side, which breaks down Mist’s lengthy tendencies into five free-standing shorts. However, the shortness of “Rope” and “L.A.” only grow the myth of Mist’s talents. Elliott and Goldberg prove that the tragically label hypnagogic genre can excel in short form as well as long. The rapid machine gun effects of “Rope,” the satellite comatose of “L.A.” and the Phantom of the Opera spirituality of “Overdose” are three separate thoughts that function just as well as one-off listens as they do as the complete backside of the LP. If there was ever a reminder needed to prove that this so-called fad isn’t going to fade but rather flourish due to the talent so heavily involved in its creation, Mist’s vinyl debut could not provide a more proper piece of entertaining evidence.

Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist who also runs the webzine, Electronic Voice Phenomenon. He writes the Monday News Mash-Up for the KEXP Blog. You may follow him on Twitter.

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