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 Garrincha & the Stolen Elk.
There are time when we, as listeners, as unprepared for what it is that is being played for us. The initial reaction is usually confusion, bleeding into indifference. When we dare not to challenge ourselves — even with our entertainment — we are ill prepared for that which may change our views; open our ears. But there are those albums that force change, that demand attention no matter your position or taste.
Say hello to Void. The latest from Weird Forest honcho, Davy Bui, and his musical brother, Matt Kretzmann — collectively known as Garrincha & the Stolen Elk — Void does what it says and in a manner that one can’t help but be drawn to its multifaceted approach at sucking you into an unquantifiable abyss.
Void begins innocuously, as opener “I Don’t Believe You,” with a sullen melody buoyed by cut dialogue, plainly repeating the song’s title. As the slowed hymnal begins to pick up steam with its morose chants, the tenor of the song begins to morph as well. The dialogue, once calm but surprised, now becomes angered and frightened, matching Bui and Kretzmann’s turn toward sinister sounds. The melody becomes crowded with unidentifiable noises coming from all directions as a guitar note grows faster and more vicious with each pulsating sound. Void is sucking us in with the power of a black hole; we are unable to fight its gravitational pull.
There is peace to be found once we surrender. “Tower of Babble” is the calm after the cacophonic storm, with an even keeled synth line before our cosmic tour guide arrives, transforming tranquility into anxiety. But it’s the album’s finale that Void has been building toward. “First Rites, Last Communion” is broken up into three distinct parts, each mimicking the highs and lows of the album’s first two stunners. “Processional” is a somber walk toward death, growing quiet and still before submitting ourselves to the unholy force holding Void together. “Con-affirmation” is our judgment: shall we get the heavenly piano key or the hellish synth — in the end we are afforded both, stuck in the underworld of G&SE’s forging.
The triptych’s finale, “Void,” begins with a muddled drone — either the whoosh of air as you are whisked up toward the clouds or the sound of Hades washing you in flame. The finale fate, and the deeper meaning behind the distorted guitar and effects which “Void” builds, is yours alone to interpret. Is it arrival at the pearly gates or a Sisyphean punishment until the end of days.