Atmosphere gets in the holiday spirit
Halloween is a time to embrace everything people consider scary. It allows people to experience abnormal, eerie and uncomfortable situations in a strangely safe setting. People spend their days planning their parties, outfits and decorations. The spookier and uneasier, the better. For the Minneapolis duo, Atmosphere, they spent the days leading up to the holiday to release an album. On October 30th, the hip-hop team released their 11th studio album, The Day Before Halloween. Against heavy and almost supernatural productions from producer Ant, and lyrics provided by Slug, are songs that deal with the uneasy conversation of mental health.
The opening track, “Where The Road Forks,” is the longest song off the project. Here, Slug speaks on the lack of ability he has when trying to explain himself. The beat here is strictly synthesizers. “Space Is Safe” follows after with a heavier and distorted sound while the lyrics describe someone addressing someone else who is suffering from depression. Slug turns the attention to himself on “The New People.” He talks about someone who is not giving him a reason to live over a somber synth and drum pattern. With an older video game style instrumental, “The Future Is Disgusting” describes a carefree relationship where those involved do not care what the world has to say about them and what they do.
“DoubleTown” gives the listener an ominous synthesizer and drum-focused beat that ends abruptly and finishes the song with a soft and slower synth. The main focus of this track is the fact that people know who people are more than likely by name and face, but not who they genuinely are. They bring back a more traditional structure to a song on “Blotter Acid Reflux Syndrome” giving listeners an intro and two verses whereas the few previous songs were one verse. The production for this track still maintains the synth. However, out of all the tracks, the hip-hop elements are a lot more prominent. Giving a very faint telephone sounding filter on the vocals, Slug allows himself to speak on all the things he has been thinking about and how it has been a lot for him.
The track with the most diverse sound would be “Party Crashers.” Instead of these dark sounds, it is a lot more upbeat, funky with alternative rock energy. The lyrics go into a rant almost that Slug is giving to the bartender at this party he found himself crashing. For the final track, “Sleep Apnea,” production goes back to the eerie sounding beat. Singing “If I could commit to you I won’t,” Slug admits that this person is someone he just can’t find himself establishing anything with.
What really helps add to the theme of unsettling and abnormal that Halloween gives people is the incorporation of a movie. With the album comes a movie which is directed by Jason Goldwatch. The visuals are reminiscent of a ’90s video game in a first-person point of view. The viewer runs a grocery store and is receiving video clips who are believed to be meant for someone else. When the clips get viewed, a song from the album is played against different clips from the internet. It’s a different approach to creating a video which is what makes it interesting and gives the album the extra attention it deserves. It also ties into the Halloween theme because of the creepiness of receiving the random clips.
Overall, The Day Before Halloween isn’t this creepy album where people will be scared to listen. It takes the approach of being unsure or uneasy in a safe setting. It allows Slug to be uncomfortable and talk about mental illness where he knows people can relate. It’s haunting sonically, but it is still similar to the sound on previous Atmosphere albums. The duo together remain in sync and fans of Atmosphere will appreciate the work and growth on The Day Before Halloween.