The American Dollar Atlas

Somewhere in the gap between a slightly more enervated Album Leaf and a much less hyper Dntel is where the American Dollar live. After a handful of self-released efforts, the duo of John Emanuele and Richard Cupola found Yesh Music and put out A Memory Stream in 2008. Their early sound, as chronicled on CD-R compilation Ambient One, tended towards an engaging blend of minimalist post-rock instrumentals and brief intervals of ambient cosmic debris. On Atlas, there is a greater confidence in their programming skills and the proliferation of machine beats and keyed sequencers yields a post-IDM Tangerine Dream vibe. On the rock side, Cupola tunes his guitar to a '70s anthem setting and bends the strings against the fray of soaring synthesizers. The "bigger is better" scenario creates a dilemma where the dynamics attempted as a two-piece, even a digitally reinforced one, sometimes either fall short or repeat basic structures. As such, Atlas is a slight dip in the road to more valuable currency. (Yesh)