Glaswe­gian prog­gers ac­cept no re­stric­tions with their cap­ti­vat­ing de­but.

Prog - - Intro -

There is a scant line that ex­ists be­tween free­dom and glut­tony, and for some prog bands, it’s a fa­tal flaw. Hav­ing the free­dom to do any­thing, after all, is very dif­fer­ent from do­ing ev­ery­thing. Glas­gow’s At­las : Em­pire fall on the right side of this line.

“The idea be­hind the name is re­ally just about do­ing what­ever we feel as mu­si­cians,” says vo­cal­ist/gui­tarist Steven Gil­lies. “That might sound pre­ten­tious, but

I feel it’s the op­po­site. I’ve al­ways used the pro­gres­sive tag be­cause it doesn’t pi­geon­hole us. There are no lim­i­ta­tions.”

Gil­lies caught the bug, like many, in his teens. “The first [pro­gres­sive] band that I heard that con­nected with me was Soundgar­den,” he tells Prog. “A lot of peo­ple don’t think of them as pro­gres­sive, but I would ar­gue that point. They were a band from the grunge scene that used loads of al­ter­na­tive tun­ings and weird time sig­na­tures, so that kind of blew my mind at the time. Es­pe­cially learn­ing guitar and go­ing, ‘So this is not 4/4!?’”

From there flowed Ocean­size, A Per­fect Cir­cle, Tool, Glass­jaw, At The Drive-In, And So I Watch You From Afar – all of whom have fed into At­las’ white-hot sound. The ef­fect was lib­er­at­ing to say the least.

“I find it dull as a form, if bands don’t mix it up,” says Gil­lies. “There are only so many times I can lis­ten to bands sound like Ex­plo­sions In The Sky. [For me], it’s the free­dom as­pect. You know, two al­bums from now we could be su­per heavy, we could be chilled out, we could be in­stru­men­tal, acous­tic, com­pletely elec­tronic. I like the fact that there are no re­stric­tions.”

At­las’ de­but is The Strato­sphere Be­neath Our Feet is a mix­ture of all of the above. It is a shapeshift­ing sand de­mon of an al­bum that runs the gamut from post-hard­core to prog metal to post-rock and into the new stream of mod­ern Bri­tish ‘rock prog’, en­cap­su­lated by the likes of Black Peaks and Ar­cane Roots. At its heart is the con­cept that our sleep­walk­ing state of on­line self-in­dul­gence and in­creas­ing ig­no­rance of gen­uine in­ter­per­sonal con­nec­tion can be taken to a log­i­cal yet fright­en­ing con­clu­sion: so­ci­etal col­lapse.

“As much as tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances are great and con­nect peo­ple in a lot of ways, be­ing com­pletely re­liant on it…” says Gil­lies, paus­ing. “What hap­pens if it stops? What hap­pens if it goes away? I think it is re­ally dan­ger­ous.”

The post-truth era, po­lit­i­cal ex­tremes, the lone­li­ness epi­demic: Face­book has be­come Death, the de­stroyer of worlds. Still, at least, come the end, we’ll be clutch­ing our charred copy of The Strato­sphere Be­neath Our Feet.

“Yes, that can be the sound­track to this dig­i­tal apoc­a­lypse,” agrees Gil­lies. “But hope­fully not. The se­cond al­bum is go­ing to be us apol­o­gis­ing. That ev­ery­body got off their so­cial me­dia feeds and we’re all good – it was all a false alarm!”

It’s up to you then, prog com­mu­nity. Save the world. There are no lim­i­ta­tions here, after all… MP





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