There’ something very cultural zeitgeist about firstly this long dormant material from AtomTM being released a few months ago, and secondly reviewing it post the recent corporately manufactured scandalous MTV stunt. It’s not that it’s about MTV per se, but there’ a strong anti corporate message coursing through HD‘ circuits.
It’s ridiculous even trying to work out what number album we’re up to for AtomTM , or his other guises like Geez N’ Gosh, Atom Heart, Senor Coconut or in collaboration with Burnt Friedman as Flanger. Suffice to say it’s a lot, this German expat now based in Santiago de Chile is freakishly prodigious in fact as I write he’ just released an album of locked grooves Radetzky Loops (Hueso Records) and started to unleash his audio archive from his website.
HD is a challenging album, AtomTM’ palette of highly artificial bleeps draws on techno and glitched up electrics, even elements of sound art, yet packages them as palatable electro pop with a cheeky sense of humour. Usually when folks are using these kinds of sounds they’re playing for the chin stroking crowd and humour is a rare commodity. But here it’s front and centre, a kind of popularist electronic experimentalism.
Stop (Imperialist Pop) is a protest song about right now. Stop Imperialist Pop,â€ offers a robot voice over shuffling clipped electric hums and funky glitches. It’s austere, without a trace of humanity, yet the beat is strangely addictive, and the whole piece feels like a missive from the future, warning us of the dangers of consuming corporate mediocrity. â€œSonic invasion from nation to nation,â€ the robot continues, â€œGaga, Gomez, Timberlake, give us a fucking break.â€ There are layers of humour in this piece. When the robot first says, â€œstop,â€ all of the music obediently stops, there’ a pause and it says â€œImperialist pop.â€ It’s impossible not to chuckle. Then of course there’ the notion of a lifeless entity bagging out lifeless music. Artificial music critiquing artificial music. Yet the reality is that though the ingredients may be austere Atom’ music is anything but lifeless.
His track Empty is even more pertinent to right now with the refrain â€œEmpty MTVâ€ and the lyrics like â€œmp3 killed the MTV, I am thrilled yeah,â€ over punishing electric funk, stuttering static and laser glitches.
Yet his funniest moment has Jamie Liddell on vocals, a clipped unnatural R&B groove, that’s a little bit reminiscent of the way Ween would torture their drum machine beats. I Love You (Like I Love My Drum Machine) is a true kind hyper nerd love song. A love song for those who peruse internet forums searching for the best electronic snare sound then excitedly go and tell their uninterested friends. â€œTo use the words of Martin Luther,â€ he offers before dropping the ubiquitous â€œI have a dream sample. â€œNow listen to my drum computer,â€ as we get a fractured electronic drum solo. Audacious, ridiculous, culturally insensitive, very funny and total genius all in the one five second grab. It’s the perfect description of HD as a whole.
Complex, yet pop, brimming with humour, yet at times fatiguing due to its austere electrics, HD is a mass of contradictions. But it also feels like something new, a piece of work that’s raised its eyes and realised that the world doesn’ begin and end with zealous knob twiddlers. Don’ get me wrong, they’ll still love this uncompromising work of cheeky chin stroking nerd funk, though as a warning about the evils of corporately manufactured produce, it could and should have a much broader appeal.