Atra Aeterna


BY Matt HarrisonPublished Jan 22, 2008

Most musicians are artists first and therefore have little interest in the business side of things, which is too bad, since Zach Mitchell’s first record, Blackgrounds, nearly wound up in my dustbin purely based on the cover (which looks eerily similar to Ministry’s The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste) and the nauseatingly heartfelt autobiographical write-up that accompanied it. Even the name was initially off-putting: Atra Aeterna was chosen, as Mitchell writes, as an "homage to ‘Lux Aeterna,’ Clint Mansell’s composition from Requiem for a Dream.” If that doesn’t sound the slightest bit pretentious, then his references to Orbital, DJ Shadow, Radiohead’s Kid A and Boards of Canada might. For an unknown bedroom musician, Mitchell is placing himself in the company of some pretty big all-stars. Fortunately for him, Blackgrounds shows promise that he might someday join said company. Influenced by early ’90s electronic producers, Blackgrounds’ melancholic compositions are uncomplicated and uncluttered by the millennia’s brief infatuation with microprogramming, a formula he best displays on "Garnet Park,” where twinkling piano loops and stealthy beats are punctuated by an exaggerated bass line that floods the piece with intense, grandiose sadness. With some better marketing, Mansell could soon find himself in competition with Mitchell for the next Aronofsky pic.

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