The American Dollar - Atlas
Record Label: Yesh Music
Release Date: Jan. 1, 2010
I am almost always left speechless when asked about albums that unobtrusively present their brilliance, and it is often thanks to those albums that I am pushed further to write about music every day. Atlas, the latest outing from the duo John Emanuele and Richard Cupolo, just happens to be the latest album to do that for me.
When dealing with the programming and keyboard that goes into ambient electronic-fused music, it is difficult to tell what the true balance between subtlety and blatant energy is. You want to craft something that is accessible in its beauty without being flagrant about what how it is expressed; the hollow intensity of Atlas adeptly portrays Cupolo and Emanuele's talent of doing just that. The dark beats of the opening "A Few Words" soon opens the curtain for a trail of key work that leads down the album's spine with astounding grace.
With Atlas having such a hefty amount electronic work, I could not help but be surprised by the excellent compliments given by Cupolo's guitar work before a solemn piano crawls through and soon explodes the song into a fury of guitar work and precise drum work. The climax lasts long enough to engrave itself in your mind and will have many coming back for second helpings.
Since we're on the topic of highlighting Cupolo's contribution, I feel it is prudent to give credit to Emanuele for laying down some rather productive drum work, particularly in the background of "Shadows" and in the climax of "Oil and Water."
Atlas is not an album that will step forward and take you to the place it needs you to go, it is an album that requires you to sit down and make the effort to step there yourself. Apart from the few moments where guitar-fireworks go off (such as in the aforementioned climax of "Oil and Water") Atlas is a quiet beauty that progresses without haste. Songs blend into each other effortlessly and come together to form a rather cohesive piece of work.
I think there are better, less-dense albums by The American Dollar as a means of an entrance if you have never ventured into their electronic haze, but Atlas is assuredly a must-have for anyone who is a fan of them or their similar sound-alikes.