To The Dust: From Man You Came And To Man You Shall Return – Ochre

The fifth release by moody San Francisco soundscape sorcerers Charles Atlas finds the group once again in fine form. The trio consisting of Charles Wyatt, Sacha Galvagna, and Matt Greenberg create slow yet sweeping atmospheres that seem to come from a place similar to Ochre label mates like Skyray and Pulsar, as well as the jazzy undercurrents of Bark Psychosis and Mogwai’s more restrained calm-before-the-storm moments. Splashes of piano and cello throughout give To The Dust much warmth, a trait that seems to be lacking on many experimental releases these days. Radiohead may have reinvented themselves as avant-garde artists with their recent post-rock film score inspired arrangements, but one listen to dazzling Charles Atlas compositions like “Signal Flags” and the chilling opener “Neither Nor” is enough to convince you that these guys have Thom Yorke and company thoroughly beaten in the somber soundtrack department. While To The Dust is mostly instrumental, Charles Atlas do incorporate vocals from time to time as on the absolutely lovely “Edith,” a track, featuring the heavenly talents of Odessa Chen, which gives the best of legendary eighties 4AD supergroup This Mortal Coil a run for their money.

-- Ben Vendetta