Agitated Atmosphere: Chris Schlarb – Making the Saint

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 Schlarb.

A thinly bright strip of the rising sun peaks between the natural slit of your curtains. You toss and turn to avoid its alarm but it’s of no use. You slide to the edge of the bed, sit up, and collect your thoughts in a heady yawn and body altering stretch. Though your partner lies beside you, still unmoving (maybe the kids are surprisingly still asleep), you find solace in the solitude of the burgeoning morning. It’s a fleeting feeling, and you’ll do what it takes to embrace it now before it becomes tiring – even frightening –before the calm is broken by the routine din that is now your new meditation.

Chris Schlarb has a long career in reinventing pop composition to fit a radical idea or approach. It’s his constant, no matter how odd it may seem from the outside. Making the Saint is his sliver of sunlight breaking, a chance to find solitude in a few movements of nothing but man and guitar before the family noise of Psychic Temple comes crashing into the bedroom in need of food and clothing.

Making the Saint is little more than Schlarb and a guitar. As such with a genre profligate with practitioners and admirers, it’s a tricky maneuver to balance the winding solace of repetition and pattern with the wanton desire to bust down 12 bar blues and free jazz riffs. Yet, Schlarb’s longest pieces are steady in their rudimentary understanding of what draws an appreciative crowd to withdrawn measures.

At this point, it would be redundant to explain the sound inherent within Making the Saint, because it is equally adept (as much of Schlarb’s more “full sound” material) at passing through multiple genres within a single melodic pretense. There are smatterings of hardnosed feedback, gentle strums in airy silence, and repeating ideas unafraid of an angular intrusion.

It’s a man and his guitar; our thoughts in the dewy dawn. There isn’t much more to read into it other than the deep breath allowed before the day’s business snaps us out of the spell. Schlarb’s trepidation at putting himself in the midst of the empty silence is understandable but the mantra of Making the Saint is the needed reprieve from the noises of every day.

Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist whose work can be viewed at his website. You can also find him on Twitter.

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