Agitated Atmosphere: Michael O. - Really?

Agitated Atmosphere, Album Reviews
03/20/2015
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 Michael O.

Last year’s Face the Facts EP from former Mantles member Michael Olivares was the sort of retro-basement pop that was unsentimental in its saccharine content.But retro isn’t some nostalgic stimulant to huff when listening to Olivares’ debut full-length, Really?. Though it borrows from the same template as last year’s EP, by revisiting the garage, bedrooms and alleyways of bygone youth, Olivares is just finding abandoned inspiration. The bits and pieces of life that we cast off in the heat of the moment, only to realize the significance later in life when life experience levels up.

Really? is more innocent question than somber remembrance. The mixture of rudimentary pop chords intermingle with oddly timed percussion and brass, unapologetically spastic and real. Olivares isn’t looking to relive any of the past, just repurpose it. Maybe it speaks to the power of the down-tempo songs ("Rio", "Listen for It", "Being There"), collecting memories which chase the sad away rather than feeding on it.

It’s a genuine feeling that permeates Really?. The question does hover, taking over each listen with the attitude reflecting from the listener based on circumstance. Much like the projections we make on our own pasts. Were they really as halcyon and Technicolor as our midsummer dreaming? Were they as dour and downtrodden as the relentless winter gloom? Really? wanders, cleaning up after our subconscious, and projects through the muse of Olivares. We are never as alone as we are when we close ourselves off. Thankfully, Olivares keeps an open line to our past, present and future whenever the needle finds Really?.

Justin Spicer is an editor and journalist who writes for Tiny Mix Tapes and Ad Hoc among others. You can find him on Twitter.

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