Agitated Atmosphere: Keith Fullerton Whitman/Mike Shiflet – “070325” b/w “080409”

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 Keith Fullerton Whitman and Mike Shiflet.

The idea of a split 12-inch is nothing new in the emerging world of vinyl and cassette vanity labels, but Amethyst Sunset takes it the extra mile with the recent release of “070325 b/w 080409.” Pairing soon-to-be legend Keith Fullerton Whitman with emerging sound artist Mike Shiflet proves a symmetrical match in musical daring and delivered concept.

Whitman’s half pulsates with radioactive energy. Unlike his recent 7-inch, Variations for Oud and Synthesizer, as well as his recent cassette, Generators, KFW explores the caged frenzy of sound by harnessing the modular synth. His movements scratch and claw, the result of note splicing gone awry. Despite his tamer releases of late, Whitman allows “070325” to enter dark matter, combing the recesses of black thoughts to produce a lengthy piece of frustration and fear.

Mike Shiflet aims to push us over the edge through his glacial guitar drone. Whereas Whitman’s piece keys on the wails of a siren, Shiflet’s hums with the fury of deflated bagpipes. Shiflet carefully squeezes life from his strings, letting the monochromatic melody hover. As the track builds upon itself, the tension builds. Shiflet is content to milk his drone for all its worth before it crumples under the pressure…sinking into metallic madness, bringing the album full circle. “070325” b/w” 080409″ is a loop, never ending and never relenting. The longer you let it play out, the further it will burrow into your cortex. Whitman and Shiflet are mad scientists and we are the meek, unsuspecting victims of their sonic experiment.

Keith Fullerton Whitman excerpt:

Mike Shiflet excerpt:

More info on the record here.

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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