A/T/O/S
A/T/O/S


4.5
superb

Review

by TMobotron CONTRIBUTOR (23 Reviews)
March 17th, 2014 | 143 replies | 8,117 views


Release Date: 03/03/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The retro soul of The Fugees and Lauryn Hill lies at the heart of this eclectic mix of styles, branching trip-hop, dubstep, jazz and RnB with style.

With only a single track sampling having been released by A/T/O/S (A Taste of Struggle), the duo of Truenoys and Amos, before their self-titled album was released, it was hard to predict much of what they had to offer. Remixes by big-name dubsteppers Skream and Commodo backing the original track, as well as its release on Mala's Deep Medi Musik label clouded predictions even further. While there is some dubstep to be found here, it's hardly traditional, and it shares its influence with hip-hop, trip-hop, jazz, soul, and RnB to create a rich genre-mixing album that may be the beginning of one of the best production-vocal pairings ever.

A/T/O/S has no trouble carving out their own sound, but they wear their influences on their sleaves. Many of the tracks that lean closer to the hip-hop side of the spectrum find themselves with one foot in the past, creating the kind of low-key hip-hop infused with RnB that only Lauryn Hill at her best was capable of pulling off so smoothly. These are the tracks that Amos's vocal work shines most on, punctuating the meticulously paced percussion and stripped-down atmosperics with her shifting rhythmic deliveries – sometimes floating airily over the top of the more well-plotted beats with half-sung soulfulness, other times giving a swinging, start-stop delivery that defines the rhythmic side of the track as well as the percussion. And yet, despite the many earthy, retro moods present here, there are connections to be made with the vocal-centric trip-hop of Portishead, Tricky, and Massive Attack, all brought on by the eclectic instrumentation and traditionally electronic elements that work their way sublty into the tracks. When the more modern production finds its way into the classy rhythms found here, it never changes the core vibe of the album - which always retains its retro, warm soulfulness.

Despite A/T/O/S's obvious influence from classic acts in hip-hop, perhaps the easiest comparison to make is to Submotion Orchestra. Like the jazzy, trip-hop-influenced dubstep group, A/T/O/S blends genres well. Sometimes it's obvious where a track's heart lies. “Run” is dubstep, with its half-time swing, dominant low-end, and mid-range growl. “Hey” is RnB-tapped hip-hop, with Amos giving her most traditionally singing delivery of the album. “A Taste of Struggle” is atmospheric trip-hop, with the hazy vocals that reverberate back and forth among the ambient, moody production that continuously hangs in the air. But more often than not, it's difficult to pin a track down that simply. Most of the tracks that feel like traditional hip-hop owe their timing much more to dubstep. “What I Need”'s soulful minimalism and syncopated percussion loses what little controlled structure it had to chaotic, cascading jazz keys, while “Nowhere” is a swirling, off-kilter track without much to hang onto for rhythmic guidance besides a simple, repetitious jazz piano loop.

And yet no matter what style Truenoys is working with, there's Amos right alongside it, seemingly capable of fitting her delivery perfectly to just about anything. It's not just her delivery that's noteworthy, but her lyrics as well. Far from wordy, but deep, and conscious, lyrics such as “"Takin' that load off your shoulder / You need to be sober to hold her / Fearless in every way you say / But you're scared of the next day" flow incredibly smoothly across the many flavors Truenoys creates.

A/T/O/S has huge appeal for multiple audiences, but rather than there being something here for everybody, everything here holds appeal for the multi-faceted audience that the album should capture. It's on a label that might let this fly under the radar for the hip-hop crowds that would adore it, and the label's audience might find it a little too distant from what they're looking for to fully let its quality sink in. But it would be a huge mistake to let this pass by, and with the right attention given to it, there's no way it will fly under the radar for long.



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user ratings (47)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
TMobotron
Contributing Reviewer
March 16th 2014



7026 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

AOTY so far. Recommended strongly to everyone. Streaming here:

https://soundcloud.com/deep-medi-musik/sets/a-t-o-s-a-taste-of-struggle

CaptainDooRight
March 16th 2014



28331 Comments


Will def chak

Digging: IQ - The Road of Bones

TMobotron
Contributing Reviewer
March 17th 2014



7026 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Let me know what you think. I definitely think most people would love this, the word just needs to get out.

Phlegm
March 17th 2014



3832 Comments


finna peep

Digging: Hey Mother Death - Highway

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
March 17th 2014



3339 Comments


this actually looks like such a good album will check

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
March 17th 2014



4507 Comments


Intrigued. TM have you heard the new HTRK?

ethos
March 17th 2014



1743 Comments


this has yeah nigga yeah written all over it

TMobotron
Contributing Reviewer
March 17th 2014



7026 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nah I haven't heard the new HTRK MT, should I?

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
March 17th 2014



4507 Comments


Definitely. They sound like a modern Portishead (album's called Psychic 9-5 Club btw)

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
March 17th 2014



30873 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

I remember downloading this a couple of days ago, because y'know, Mala and all. Still haven't checked it out yet though. Maybe tonight, but Beneath just dropped the latest RA mix so priorities and such

Digging: FaltyDL - In The Wild

TMobotron
Contributing Reviewer
March 17th 2014



7026 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

That sounds amazing MT, I'll give it a listen.

Dev, you do things at whatever rate feels right for you, just make sure you don't miss this because you'll enjoy it a lot.

LordePots
March 17th 2014



6518 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

well this sounds like something i would like

Digging: B-Ju - Merianplatz

PunchforPunch
March 17th 2014



5891 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This shit is sexy

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
March 17th 2014



2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yea boi

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
March 17th 2014



2714 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

25 people like this (?!)

Typhoner
March 17th 2014



803 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

They posted this on their fb page, so I guess that helps. They're apparently based in Antwerp, which is pretty cool.

Anyway, nice review TMob and thanks for bringing this under my attention. I'm only a few tracks in, but it seems you described the album quite well. The Submotion Orchestra comparisons are rather obvious, but fitting. I can definitely see myself digging this.

Digging: Inigo Kennedy - Vaudeville

BobbbyLight
March 17th 2014



63 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Between the review and the rec's, I had to check this out and I like it. Maybe even love it, but my complaint is that the pace of the album feels the same, front to back. It feels (note I said, feels, I'm not positive on the technical aspect) like the bpm is the same in every song outside of "Nowhere".

I did listen to this at work, I feel like this is something I will end up falling in love with when I get the chance to listen in the dark, eyes closed kinda thing. So I need a few more spins before I really know how much I like this, but great review and really glad check this out.

TMobotron
Contributing Reviewer
March 17th 2014



7026 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think the majority of the tracks are either 70 or half-time 140, but some of them are around 100 or so.

But talking about the way it feels like you said, without analyzing the BPM exactly, everything does seem to have a slow, smooth pace. I don't think it's a flaw though - you could say the same thing about Dummy. In addition to nowhere though, I do find a few tracks to be a bit livelier. I'm thinking of "Run" just off the top of my head.

But I definitely see where you're coming from. Glad to hear you're enjoying the album. But yeah I think you're probably right about listening at work vs home. The album IS something to get lost in - again, much like Dummy.

LordePots
March 17th 2014



6518 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

fuck bpm anyway, who gives a fuck

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 17th 2014



9997 Comments


Djs (and fuck them anyways right)

Digging: Deniro Farrar - Rebirth



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