White Moth Black Butterfly
Atone


4.0
excellent

Review

by Claire Q. CONTRIBUTOR (53 Reviews)
September 7th, 2017 | 23 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Susurrations of the spirits

With One Thousand Wings, Dan Tompkins’ first foray into the realms of trip hop was one that could be defined as inquisitive, extending tendrils of curiosity into several different styles. Whether the approach seemed scattershot would have depended on your interpretation of the album’s framework; White Moth Black Butterfly had opted for a general binding of introspective, spiritual themes to unite a disparate collective of songs. Ranging from bombastic Brit-pop to a vaguely Oriental-sounding piano ballad, One Thousand Wings was held together by sheer ambition as much as it was by an intuition for compact songwriting.

Atone, though, firmly resides in the singular world that it has created. Lucidity percolates through its cool synthesizer washes and cavernous spaces; it bears a strong sense of self, bares its identity as a being of the wild born from inorganic and organic. This particular marriage of traditional instruments to electronic resonance births some intriguing aspects: a variety of strings paint the background, and “The Sage" even incorporates guzheng, adding an exotic splash of colour. Certain songs could be said to be more pointillistic, dotting their canvases with a palette of glitching sounds and abbreviated vocal passages. Atone can afford to be more impressionistic, less upfront; its forbearance speaks for itself, as does its overarching cohesiveness.

Atone is simultaneously reduced and grandiose. Overlooking its abundant dispersion of notes that drift and linger, it is quite minimalistic in its composition. Harmonizing layers wrap themselves around cores of restrained, hymnal melodies. The uncanny echoes of “An Ocean Away” and “Symmetry” evince dark swirls of atavistic spirituality - they stand in stark contrast to songs that find themselves bathing underneath more light. But where One Thousand Wings had faltered in utilizing parts of its softer self, such as with the overwrought “Midnight Rivers”, Atone excels with subdued hues; “The Serpent” weaves gossamer, propelled by a discreet rhythmic backbone that hints at latent turmoil but coyly leaves itself only half-unfurled.

But there is an element of Atone that is rather prominent in the foreground, escaping its generally reserved nature. The twin vocals of Dan Tompkins and Jordan Bethany are conspicuous presences, and are, or at least aspire to be, the lynchpins of Atone. The ethereal tones of Jordan imbue into the record an otherworldly iridescence, and her contribution feels remarkably organic - on a textural level it succeeds at melding in with the airiness of Atone’s more delicate moments, and acts as a dynamic foil during sections of primal reverberation. However, Dan’s vocals are considerably more discrete - their placement, front and centre, insinuates some specific, though undefined, importance attributed to them. Not much dispute will be found about the quality of his voice - his technique is striking, his timbre sonorous. Yet some may be wary about how he distracts from or competes with the richness of the instrumentation. The point of saturation is never quite reached, though it is slightly paradoxical that Dan, in his muted lower registers, strikes harder than he does while crooning in his signature falsetto.

Still, Atone feels so complete, so whole, especially when seen in light of White Moth Black Butterfly’s past efforts. Hollow has become vast, languor is now a knowing patience. One Thousand Wings seems contrived in comparison - a false believer now pitted against the actual spirits that he purported to worship. Atone arises from the depths to cleanse the sins of the past.



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user ratings (51)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
ebenwilton (4)
Ambitious, lush, cinematic- all of this in an accessible pop music package...

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One Thousand Wings


Comments:Add a Comment 
verdant
Staff Reviewer
September 6th 2017


2292 Comments


why. is. your. analysis. so. goddamn. good????????????????
how. have. you. improved. so. vastly. in. such. a. short. amount. of. time???????
(the paragraph about vocals is extra fantastic)

clavier
Contributing Reviewer
September 6th 2017


817 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

thank you jack for actually paying attention to my reviews

Digging: Milanku - De Fragments

ramon.
Contributing Reviewer
September 6th 2017


2575 Comments


i feel enlightened

verdant
Staff Reviewer
September 6th 2017


2292 Comments


thank u for writing them : )

clavier
Contributing Reviewer
September 7th 2017


817 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

also, i counted and i have now reviewed 6 dan releases. lovely.

ianblxdsoe
September 7th 2017


1896 Comments


this is great wow i cant tell if this makes me want to get better at writing or just stop overall lmfao def gonna check this though, hardest pos

Digging: Antarctigo Vespucci - Love in the Time of E?-?Mail

clavier
Contributing Reviewer
September 7th 2017


817 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

thanks ian, hope you're doing well dude

VuvuzelaBzz
September 7th 2017


91 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album's really pretty for lack of a better word. Enjoying Jordan's vocals much more here than I did on the debut.



Dan's having a great year so far. Hopefully the new TesseracT is just as good.

clavier
Contributing Reviewer
September 7th 2017


817 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I was disappointed by Smile but I'm holding faith

Beardog
September 7th 2017


2244 Comments


I think new TesseracT will be utter shit, but talking about this record, I think I might like this, or just find it too boring. Not so sure, the tone of 'The Serpent' is indeed pretty

BlushfulHippocrene
Contributing Reviewer
September 7th 2017


2609 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Love love love this review. This sounds interesting.

Digging: Pictureplane - Degenerate

Confessed2005
September 7th 2017


4513 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album is a beauty. Great review also.

Evok
September 7th 2017


7586 Comments


Sounds ballin'. Will check

Digging: War (UK) - Come Cross

clavier
Contributing Reviewer
September 7th 2017


817 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's true that this album may not be the most substantive type but it really is so damn pretty that I don't care

Chortles
September 8th 2017


21291 Comments


this sounds so interesting.v v nice read too, I love the diction here

BeyondCosby
September 19th 2017


2254 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I didn't expect to enjoy this as much as I did. The atmosphere on Penitence is so incredible.

Pho3nix
October 9th 2017


548 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Very interesting album, bit all over the place though

BeyondCosby
October 10th 2017


2254 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

All over the place in what respect?

Pho3nix
October 10th 2017


548 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I guess the change in instrumentation, pace, trip-hop + ambient? and then suddenly you have female vocals thrown in too.



Not saying It's inherently a bad thing though, to throw those aspects around

BeyondCosby
November 21st 2017


2254 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Interesting... I thought the tone was spot on for this album. Even if there were some different things instrumentally that they tried I felt like it was all in sync.



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