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 from luminaries such as Pale Blue Sky.
It takes guts to release music through one’s own label when surrounded by a catalog loaded with exceptional talent and material. The list is few of those who have found success in being label proprietor and versatile musician but Mike Pollard, creator of Arbor and mastermind behind Treetops and now Pale Blue Sky, has pulled it off with his recent mantra, Shades of Grey.
The album’s parameters are specific (another risk asked from Pollard): listen in a quiet room at a reasonable volume. Like the hum of the highway in the throes of midnight, Shades of Grey demands keen attention to detail alongside the ability to let everything go in favor of enjoying the ride. Tires meeting rumble strips as a calm wind whistles through rolled down windows is the sound embodied by the mild drones of Shades of Grey. Pollard’s goal was to capture these ideas in song and he seemingly does so effortlessly. Each track is organic, slowly rising from earth’s ether to wrap itself around the listener as it fills the room with subtle beauty.
The compositional drone is mature, hard to believe coming from a 20 year-old enjoying the freedom given to those fast approaching adulthood. It’s this emboldened attitude that breathes life into Shades of Grey; the notion that those moments of silent solitude reveal our desires, dreams, and destinies without the filter of high definition, phone calls, texts, and social networking. Pollard hasn’t completely disconnected himself from the technological age with Shades of Grey but he has bent it to his naturalistic will. Time to open the windows, shut off our networks, and return to a place of innocence.