At: One
Symbolic Interaction

On their debut album under the At name, d_rradio member Chris Tate teams up with his wife Jill for the forty-minute One. The recording's heavily indebted to ambient field recordings the two collected at various locations during 2014 and 2015, with Scotland, Chicago, and their own kitchen in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK a sampling of the places visited and documented. If there's a guiding concept in play, it's that each setting was developed by the Tates in such a way that the resultant piece ideally would match the atmosphere and feel of the original recording.

At album's start, “Before Thought” derives its insistent rhythmic thrust from a chugging locomotive-like element that might very well have its roots in a field recording of an actual train; regardless, the merging of its forceful rhythmic drive with sunny melodic accents makes for a strong entry-point to the recording. Certainly there's no shortage of textural detail to fixate on, and the release's other twelve tracks offer similar levels of stimulation. As mentioned, field recordings form a prominent part of the overall picture, such that the character of each setting is dictated in part by the particular field recordings-related content included. A veritable aviary's worth of bird sounds complements laid-back guitar playing and synthesizers during the aptly titled “Good Day” and “The Same Everything,” for example, whereas an unusual juxtaposition arises during “What Silence” when slow-motion guitar expressions intone alongside industrial train clatter roaring through the background. In other tracks, farm and seaside sounds lend their respective settings individuating character.

Rhythmically, At's music has roots, if subtly, in hip-hop, given the inclusion of downtempo head-nodding beats on the collection, but the couple's music concerns itself as much with ambient music that has a pronounced melodic emphasis. Though no instrumentation is listed, guitars, bass, and keyboards are audible, and one presumes that the customary assortment of digital tools and effects also were deployed in the material's construction. With respect to mood, One encompasses a generous number, even if wistful and reflective moods figure heavily. Generally speaking, much of At's oft-pretty material exudes the character of a peaceful reverie capable of inducing a state of meditative calm in the receptive listener.

November 2015