a'tris is too melodic sounding to be considered avant-garde
or experimental, and they are too avant-garde and experimental
to be considered mainstream pop. So here they sit between two
worlds with music that both worlds would enjoy if they opened
themselves up to what a'tris has to offer. Fronted by lead singer
Mason Taylor, a'tris is a group of like-minded musicians
who seem to change their lineup with each new recording, but the
music continually maintains a synth-pop/ambient-rock stratum.
Formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 2003, a'tris began with Taylor
and music programmer, Michael Kreher. Now, Kreher is a
producer for a'tris' latest release, Lensing, along with
Chuck Sokol and a'tris' present guitarist Ben Azar.
The current lineup for the band also includes Pete Koopmans
on drums, Claire L. Finley on bass, and Takuma Anzui
on drum programming.
Lensing is a'tris' third record following their debut
album, Appeal, in 2005 and their 6-track EP, Of The
Commons, in 2007. Their music has a synth-flask resonance
like Muse and wavy melodic currents reflective of Radiohead.
Taylor's vocal hooks in "Bite The Bullet" and "Automatic
Doors" make the songs memorable and leave a lasting impression
on the listener relatable to Incubus' handling of melodic
slopes. The industrial metal overtones in "Light And Shadows"
are used for effects without taking over the melody, which has
an ambient-winged phrasing seaming its base coating. The frilly
embellishments along "Dark Lotus" create intervals of
bustling activity, while the picturesque piano motifs of "This
Mortal Engine" and "Outside The Factory" swirl
around the time-ticking drumbeats. There is a shade of melancholy
which drapes over segments of "Update Status" and "Paradise
Is A Boxcar," but they change their tone and break out of
the gloom into a soaring plane of sonic glimmers. The toggling
piano keys of "Selling Oxygen" are tweed with glacial
sounds and the faint rhythmic knolls have ambient-rock crests
reminiscent of Radiohead.
a'tris' album sounds like much of it is made up of programmed
sounds, and yet, these are all songs which sound like they could
be played with an acoustic guitar or piano and vocals. There is
a simplicity in the melodic phrasing which can be played bare
or played with sonic embellishments. No matter which way a'tris
perform these songs, the band is astute at making art-pop and
implementing creative strokes and melodic-frayed indentations.
a'tris is a band that has been spoken about with admiration within
the indie music circuit, but the band continues to fall under
the radar of the mainstream. If the stars are positioned right,
maybe Lensing will finally give a'tris the attention that
they deserve for being both melodic sounding and art-pop.
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