Agitated Atmosphere: Black Eagle Child/Eureka ‒ split

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 Black Eagle Child and Eureka.

People of the Northwest, it is time you paid REAL attention to the scene around you. Seattle and Portland do play host to a wealth of ‘indie’ music talent but left in the dust of fleet feet running to catch those toasty indie 5 and 6-piece bands are bands and labels digging deeper into sonic bliss. Of course, every musical decade since Bill Haley’s first big lick can proclaim such an argument but now the mistake is happening on a regular basis. Look no further than cassette label Stunned. Housed in Portland, the work of Phil and Myste French deserves your undivided attention. You’d be surprised what sort of organic, non-threatening sounds are to be found on tapes these days.

The jumping off point suggested for the most recent batch is the untitled split between Black Eagle Child and Eureka. The cassette is flush with two sides of hypnotic lullabies, far removed from the musical rat race and yet constructed from the salt of the earth. Black Eagle Child, the pseudonym of Michael Jantz, takes over the A-side with three guitar-based exercises in modest repetition. The melodies on each track set a mood as Jantz rhapsodizes gently and sweetly across his already colorful palettes. “Woke and Walked Early One Morning” finds notes falling like perfectly timed dewdrops and falling leaves as Jantz captures the contemplative (but not stuffy) tone of walking alone in the glow of a cool morning. “I Know I’m Twinkly and I Don’t Mind” is as close to the sonic ether of Roy Montgomery Jantz has ever teased; the song swirling with warm pattern even as the production keeps it at arm’s length. Longing never felt so good. This year has been kind of Jantz; this split, along with the just released full-length Lobelia, showcases the amount of growth of the Black Eagle Child brand in recent years.

The B-side belongs to the equally obtuse but nonetheless excellent work of William Giacchi. Giacchi is a vet of psych supergroup Magic Lantern as well as the supersonic duo Super Minerals (both featuring Stunned’s proprietor, Phil French). As Eureka, Giacchi unleashes a stream of synth consciousness that supersedes the over-washed landscape in which the instrument exists. Gone are the spaced out jams and 80s courtesy bows, replaced by lush cascades of keys such as B-side opener “Orison” demonstrates. Giacchi does let his mind—and his third eye—wander during “Ariande’s Ocarina,” channeling his stranger moments in a weird but not unsettling trance. Finale “Cocoon Cerulean” is the waking alarm to the dream of the split.

The problem at hand with a release this good: it’s limited and it’s sold out. See what happens when you ignore Stunned, Pacific Northwesterners: the rest of the world takes notice. Batches go fast and there’s an unshakeable guarantee you’ll find a diamond like the Black Eagle Child/Eureka split in every one.

Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist whose work can be viewed at his website. He also pens Deserted for the KEXP Blog. You may follow him on Twitter.

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