Atmosphere's new album, So Many Other Realities Exist Simultaneously, opens with a gentler approach. A departure from the brute intros of earlier works, "Okay" seems to comfort and reassure the listener, with Slug rapping over one of Ant's most twinkling productions to date. Yet, there's still an unmistakable sense of uneasiness that sets in, evolving throughout the album.
From the subtle panic of "Dotted Lines" to the overt anxiety of "In My Head," the tensions seem to cede, swell and then find resolve again through cautiously optimistic songs like "Still Life". Meanwhile, the rhythms on this album are some of Ant's most inventive. The playful percussion on "In My Head" acts as a counterweight to the roiling writing, while the drum patterns on "Holding My Breath" and "Bigger Pictures" allow Slug to play with his flow, underscoring the anxiety driving the record. Where previous albums in Atmosphere's catalog emphasized the parts of life that carry the most meaning-family, brotherhood, purpose-Realities is an unnerving excavation of paranoia, perspective and positivism. The tension in these songs is palpable, but their presence is a testament to the hope that underpins them. Whenever the curtains might close, the music goes on.