Genre: New-Wave, Post-Punk, Alternative
Sounds Like: Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead
Best Songs: Last Glance, Flight 143
Strengths: Pretty neat effects and synth production, Great theme setting, Lots of subtle instrumentation
Weaknesses: Can be sparse, Long-winded, Depressing
Casey Fallen is a multi-instrumentalist based in Los Angeles. In this project, he covers lead vocals as well as guitar and keyboards. His colleague, Doug Osborne, handles lead guitar, bass, as well as some of the production. This album, titled “Atmospheric Disturbances”, is Osborne and Fallen’s second full length work, which was released July of last year. However, the group’s debut album, titled “Orbis Pictus” was released in 2005 and since then, these two musicians have been met with considerable success with both releases; including top radio airplay on college stations as well as placing in top 10 MTV band rankings several times. Fallen and Osborne have also performed with large acts such as Sick Puppies. This record “Atmospheric Disturbances”, was mastered by the chief engineer for A&M studios, Dave Collins.
There is so much depth to “Atmospheric Disturbances”. This album was mastered and produced very well; there are many dimensions and layers to this record. On the surface, most of these tracks appear to be moody, ambient, synth-driven musings across a gloomy and enveloping soundscape that just seem to trudge onward with dreary. However, closer listening will prove “Atmospheric Disturbances” to be much more dynamic. These songs require undivided attention to all levels of the mix; otherwise it is pretty easy to miss great instrumentation. This idea is demonstrated best with respect to the guitar work. Most of the time, the guitars in this album are mixed under all the synth/moodiness and appear quite soft, serving less as a guide to the listener and more as a gentle backdrop to the vocals and layers of enveloping effects. However, there are some great guitar lines in this album, such as the solos in songs like “Flight 143” and “Blue”. The guitar is creative and non-insistent. Tasteful, yet not overbearing. Effect-driven, but still recognizable as guitar. There is a lot of similarity here to new-wave bands, as well as post-punk/alternative groups like Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead. In fact, Casey Fallen’s voice is very similar to Billy Corgan’s; they have the same kind of gentle, thin, tinny sounding croon that has become synonymous with moody alternative music. The mood and tone of these songs is captivating, but listen close for clever and subtle instrumentation that really enhances these tracks.
This album is certainly for a particular demographic of people, or perhaps only for when listeners are in a certain mood. It is understandable that elements of sadness can always be part of great music, but “Atmospheric Disturbances” is pretty depressing. Some of the lyrics go a little overboard; and beyond the realm of tastefulness for the average listener. Lyrics like “One way ticket on a crashing plane” and “The children cry out in pain”, or “Mother gets a meal from a dumpster” are a little too much. Be as dark and sinister as you want, that is not my argument. My argument is to do it in a way that is clever and tasteful, rather than being depressing for the sake of being depressing. Another aspect is the effects in this album; there are so many of them. There is reverb, phasers, spacey keyboards, sound effects, mood setters etc. This stuff is pretty neat, it adds to the gloom of the album very well. However, the last track, the title track, is six minutes long. The first two minutes are effects with sparse instrumentation, and then the last four minutes of the “song” consists of just a bunch of atmospheric noises and effects. This is the chief example of the fact that there are points on this album where things seem to meander on for way longer than they should. “Atmospheric Disturbances” can get a little long-winded and boring at times.
This album has some really interesting aspects and themes to it. It is very dynamic and well mixed; there is a lot of really nice subtleties in the instrumentation. The effects used are enveloping and do a great job of setting the mood of this work. However, this album is too depressing and a little long-winded for a general audience. A great work, yet definitely made for specific demographics.
– Owen Matheson