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 Chris Weisman.
One may be misled when reading Agitated Atmosphere. There is talk of melody and structure but often in obtuse language. Rarely are traditional musical formats touched upon, largely because the modern pop world is often drowned in mainstream bubblegum or a plethora of indie bands riding the coattails of faux innovation; some get it right, many don’t.
These are trappings Chris Weisman does not touch (briefly discussed three weeks ago). Last year’s Fresh Sip was a loaded cassette of simplistic pop pleasures, stripping pretense in favor for substance. But rectangular plastic only has so much space, so Autumn delivers a larger canvas for Weisman to color with the double disc, Transparency.
Weisman’s touchstones are easily recognizable (The Beatles, Elliott Smith, Beulah) but his tunes are his own; never duplicates of bygone eras. Transparency’s 30 songs brim with every imaginable showcase of pop — an encyclopedia’s worth of history and innovation played out with Weisman’s breathy voice and supple plucks. Weisman’s vision never seems concrete, changing ideas mid-stream to fit an oncoming mood or to accommodate a better idea as it arises. Yet Transparency never loses its momentum, turning pop into more than just enjoyable music eager for mass consumption.
Talk of eating magic mushrooms, odd time signatures, and sparse experiments intertwine with silly ballads and heartfelt honesty — a clumsy blend that falls into place in Weisman’s careful hands. Transparency is what the world post-Sgt. Pepper’s was imagined to be but it’s taken 40 years and countless missteps by an industry before a musician stationed in Vermont reclaimed it for the imaginative masses. It’s no accident the album outright references the Fab Four (obviously, “The Beatles”) and provides Weisman’s strangest Transparency entry. It’s no accident that only Chris Weisman could pull this off. To ignore Transparency is to ignore your conscious. Pop will always be the music with which we connect to the larger world and now, Weisman’s variations allow those feelings to pour out once more.