Atmo Brtschitsch Change Your Life

Slightly sinister and deceptively down-tempo, this album emerges from a variety of well-blended genres to make it step away from the pack. The sparse and jerky "Green Plane” borrows from mainstream hip-hop in rhythm, but in melody, tone and structure the song is a calm balance of new age, industrial, and microbeat. "Rockstar” follows with a pared-down house-tech (with a strangely thought-provoking sample of someone asking "Why me?”), and "Always Smiling” clearly references drum & bass and chill-out. There’s also a distinct pop touch to the lyrics throughout, accompanied by the occasional sly hook. But the most distinctive element is its dark underbelly slithering throughout the record. For instance, the spooky monologue and vocal treatment of "Black Seed,” where words like "suicide” and "the dark seed” and "the goblins” float up from a solid beat, and a similar use of haunting text and man voice in "Image,” stick out. Although the dark themes are necessary as it gives an edge unachievable through other effects, the songs are handled so well it’s a shame to defeat the relaxed vibe via the tension created with the darker subjects. Either way, it’s a great headphones album that uses repetition and subtlety to great effect. (Silke Maurer)