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Monday, 27 July 2009

Atman - 'Tradition' (Drunken Fish)

"Featuring Anna Nacher", whose vocals are all over this thing, this Atman album buzzes and howls through the dark Polish woods, years before Dead Raven Choir. Where renmant ghosts of Nazi tanks still remain, melting voices from the spiritworld blend with rampant ethnoacoustics. There's a Hendrix cover and a bunch of crazed shoutingYELPINGmuttering, lotsa instruments you don't know the names of, and a general woodland vibe. Sixty-three minutes of it, too! But like future band the Magic Carpathians, that forest atmosphere is taken into a recording studio and all the tricks are in place. There's a funky electric bass, some synths, and a general layer of gloss over everything. This pagan approach to psychedelic music, with the rock all sucked out, surely influenced all those bands in Finland that came along later. Except that while those bands used lo-fi hiss to make their sound more otherwordly, distant, etc., Atman seem cool with the idea that music can actually be well-recorded; thus if you are so inclined (and have nice high-quality speakers or headphones and stereo audio equipment) you can really lose yourself in the joy of recorded instruments. The pure, inherent psychedelia of a reverberating string is on display here, though layered and with madcap vocals threatening to distract. The whole "other" aspect of the Polish language gives Tradition an air of exoticism to this native-English speaker, though maybe they're just singing about girls, fast food and cars. Ten years ago, when I got this CD, it was like discovering a new world of insane atmospheres, and from my ancestral homeland as well! But listening now, it feels less impressive; maybe because I've got another decade of hearing similar sounds, some predating Tradition by 20 years or more. But maybe I've just moved further into my own; the pagan thing carries nothing exotic anymore, I've been to Poland now, and my tastes have moved away from crazy folk-based psych. And maybe I demand something a bit more concise now; 63 minutes is a lot of Atman, where 40 might have sufficed. But not to be hard on this - as I haven't listened to this for a few years it was a pretty nice flashback.

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