Agitated Atmosphere: Matt Christensen - Coma Gears

Agitated Atmosphere, Album Reviews
03/21/2014
Justin Spicer

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 Matt Christensen.It’s a difficult task to combine the fragile elegance of drone and ambient with the primal urges of rock and roll. The results are often droll and weak, one side of the brain pulverizing the other until it’s a mess of grey matter.

What battle the two waged deep within Matt Christensen is up for a guess. But the product from such an all-out assault, Coma Gears, is not the slumbering or lumbering malaise one would expect from such an honest title. The only existentialism that rises to the surface of Christensen’s debut is that which he experience in its creation. Though pulling back the curtain to its creation may prove a worthy endeavor, Coma Gears is enjoyable at a surface level. The turmoil of underwater volcanic eruptions is volatile and vivid, but in the end it’s the sustainability of the created land mass that fuels our interest.

That is not to discount the battle between left and right that engulfs Coma Gears. Its personal influence is felt throughout the album by Christensen’s gentleness. Rarely does the drone grate or jar, choosing to be the pillow on which the melody rests its head (“California”). When Coma Gears does raise its voice, it’s not to speak over others rather than to make sure the truth is heard (“Blame the World”).

The kinetic connections between the ego and id have driven Bathetic toward some psychological hold on those who have found themselves on the label’s couch these past few years. Coma Gears takes it one step further. Though Christensen’s wizard may never fully swing open the curtain on his inner battle between musical anomalies, they make beautiful music together that is deeply affecting and easily accessible. The punishment his mind is dishing out; the scars on the bottom of the ocean – we will hide our eyes until such a time as we need to know. Perhaps then Coma Gears’s metastasis will have matured and its true intentions know.

But I don’t want to think about it – let it fight off the fear than to bring it.

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

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