Traditional rock stylings and modern experimentation exist simultaneously within the fuzzed-out, controlled chaos that Atlas and the Astronaut have crafted into their debut full-length record, Tiny Artifacts. Simmering feedback, combustible rhythms and fire-breathing vocals all serve to super-charge the tight riffs that act as the backbone of the album, starting from the first note of the opening track, “On the Shoulders of Giants.” The quiet, droning of an initial progression fades into a bluesy melody that is quickly distorted into a lumbering colossus of a chorus; showcasing the raw energy that this borderline psychedelic brand of hard rock embodies.
The album continues as “On the Shoulders of Giants” fades into “Snake Oil,” a track that references a punk rock energy in it’s driving rhythms and anarchic shouts. This same energy is encapsulated at different moments throughout Tiny Artifacts, possibly most dynamically in the chorus of “Enter the Sun Beast,” one of my favorites on the first listen. It moves through quiet verses, fluctuating through subtle shifts into an explosive chorus. As the track ends and moves into “Weight of a Hummingbird” I’m reminded of some of my favorite progressive rock albums. It sounds as though the tracks are being woven together, and through the reverberating stitches I’m able to pick out a thematic arc without being quite certain of the story I’m being told.
The album continues on it’s rocking path from this point forward with “Flight II” and “Kings with Plastic Markers,” pausing for a few moments of silence and noisy experimentation. After returning from the “Flight III” and being driven to the end of the album with “Tension and Release” Atlas and the Astronaut leave the listener where they began, but with a new perspective on the place that they’ve landed. Overall, this album is a fantastic example of the quality of rock music that is being being produced in our area. Join Atlas and the Astronaut on Friday, November 21st at Analog Cafe as they celebrate the release of Tiny Artifacts along with The Mercury Tree, Divides and Patrimony.
- Ben Toledo