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 Wet Hair.
The maturation of Shawn Reed and Ryan Garbes has long been in the works. Fans of the duo since their days in deconstructionist unit Raccoo-oo-oon have been keen to the pop tendencies, but as Wet Hair they take a seat at the head of the class rather than loitering in the back.
Spill into Atmosphere is the second full-length album from Wet Hair for venerable freak label De Stijl. The trajectory for the twosome’s latest similarly follows In Vogue Spirit; both bombastic and patriotic in celebrating all that is weird and wonderful.
But Spill into Atmosphere begins to climb higher and burn brighter than its predecessor. Reed and Garbes have grown comfortable transforming their noisy past into music with defined rhythms and catchy melodies. A-sides “Grey Palisades” and “Color & Shape” provide a nice transition from the carnivalesque In Vogue Spirit without borrowing too much from the same template. Though both tracks reminisce in the psychedelic presentation of “Echo Lady,” neither is beholden to it. “Color & Shape” inhales Ian Curtis and exhales Bernard Sumner, demure but alive.
The addition of Justin Thye rounds out Wet Hair’s looser sound. It’s not so much about Spill into Atmosphere sounding focused, rather the results are robust. The low end is more pronounced, giving the rhythm section some room to play around. The bass rumbles under foot, giving rooted feet a reason to move with the music. “Strange Romance” capitalizes on such a tectonic shift, though “Camouflage” doesn’t toss out the whimsy with the warped.
Through his own label, Night People, Reed has disseminating musics from all corners. Spill into Atmosphere is but the first of many distillations of that ear, borrowing from every genre that best expresses the fun Wet Hair encourage.