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a-tota-so Release Sophomore Album “Lights Out”- Out Now via bUTTONpUSHER | Album Review

April 25, 2022

a-tota-so Release Sophomore Album “Lights Out”

Out Now via bUTTONpUSHER

Last month, a-tota-so returned with their sensation sophomore album “Lights Out“, which was released March 11th via bUTTONpUSHER.

The new album was born from the uncertainty of the music industry whilst the entire world was on pause, with no clear support for musicians, a-tota-so united to fight back and to start work on their second album. The new 8-track release welcomes this dynamic change from the audacious math-rock/ grunge band, alternating from their known experimental instrumental vision and this time enlisting this plethora of remarkable vocalists to add their own touch to the new material. a-tota-so called on their friends from the UK and Irish music scene, to unite on all musical paths. Featuring collaborations from the likes of Damien Sayell (The St Pierre Snake Invasion/ Mclusky), Ashley Tubb (Sugar Horse), Jake O’Driscoll (God Alone) and Ellie Godwin (No Violet), the new additions provide this immersive affection to the entire record.

The record kicks off with opener “Choke” ft Jake O’Driscoll of God Alone. Instantly captivating the audience with the hell-fire drum shuffle initiating the heavy ensemble. Jake’s colossal vocal tones expressly amplify the intensity of this ardent creation. Angular passages greet you alongside this disdained low end pushing through the soundscape. The guitar tones and math noodles add this elevation to the mammoth instrumentation. The first single welcomes this immense fierce energy from all involved. A track oozing this charming assault, this aggression resonates from the vocal notes and lyrics to the tonality shifting the power throughout. Dynamically imploring alternating time signatures, beefy scales, and intricate shifts in the weight of the structure.

a-tota-so have this remarkable knack of creating such obscure, unpredictable explorations, complex creations which pull you in as the audience fixates on the sonic scale of their soundscapes. Kicking off their album with “Choke”, we understand the boundless vision, scope, and craft of this outfit, the fearless energy consumes this single and carries into the following 7 tracks.

This isn’t the same band you fell in love with from their self-titled album back in 2018, this is a trio with more progression, more attitude, and more to say.

Flowing with such ease into the next release, “Far Enough” Ft. Damien Sayell begins with this immediate enigmatic atmosphere from the apex of drum beats to Damien’s crushing vocal harmonies. The addition of Sayell‘s input, best known for The St Pierre Snake Invasion/ Mclusky, adds this pungent infectious charm to this creation. The distinct darker, brooding character resonating from Sayell’s tones collides with the devouring instrumentation. Monotonous hard-hitting riffs are present throughout and assist the full-bodied sound that showed no signs of weakness. Darting rhythmic harmonics explore this erratic course whilst the track weaves into this shifting journey. Immersive drum shuffles initiate breakdowns, and the mesmeric layering of the vocal notes captivates with the return of the smashing cymbal hits. This post-punk, dark Americana influence seems to shine via Sayell. Cattermole’s fierce drum playing centers this evoking creation as he forcefully accommodates his drive, bringing such an aggressive power collating with the hypnotic riffs and compelling musicianship throughout.

Bringing this sudden change to the aggressive nature of the ambiance found in the first 2 tracks, the audience embraces the raw and emotive ensemble “I Am” ft. Aisling Whiting of Sang Froid. The track showcases a softer appeal to the outfit, immediately Aisling joins the atmosphere and begins to sculpt the dramatic world that lies ahead. This dazzling guitar tone serenades the soothing sounds from Aisling in the first few bars, the guitar rhythmically directs the harmonies with its formation as the gentle drum shuffles and the complex low-end surges amongst the alluring world. As the lyrics soar in the soundscape, Realf Greville Heygate emerges on Violin and Cello adding further depth to the ensemble with the resonating strings. As “I Am” steps up the intensity midway, the charging direction adds this gritty tone and immersive riff, and the drumbeat aggravates the power of this piece as a-tota-so welcome their dynamic unpredictable shifts into their arrangement, keeping their well-known traits present throughout their new body of work. As this chaos seemingly grows, bringing ferocity to the forefront, Aisling‘s vocal notes expand, explode and dominate the world. A triumphant emotionally charged composition.

Squirrel Bait” Ft. Kieran Hayes marks the halfway point of this adventurous album. Raw tones and this punk-inspired push greet the audience, yet again showcasing the unlimited vision for this outfit, another track with such variety and alternating their delivery once more. Hayes brings this sense of urgency and reaction resonating from the vocal notes attacking the exploration throughout. The lyrics are raw, that immediacy captured, both in the words and the grandeur of the soundscape, alternating the time signatures to validate the aggression of the vocal notes. This exploration is nothing short of mammoth, the high peaks consume you, and the softer spaced out shuffles and tweaks add a refreshing touch. a-tota-so take the audience on this unpredictable ride appreciating the depth of their vision and their ability to turn off that urgency with such ease as they immerse themselves and their audience into the experimental softer grooves of this release.

Twinkly patterns and shimmering guitar notes break the intensity of the previous track and play in these sweeter melodies, the audience is set to embrace “Footprints on the Ceiling” Ft. Brian Scally of Ganglions, this is the track initially keeping the a-tota-so math foundation of their outfit. The melodic creation captures this infectious quality and lo-fi drum commitment for the first phase of the ensemble. Intelligent guitar work starts to sculpt the structure, as Scally’s immersive vocal notes and swelling harmonies allure the audience into the powerful movement of this song. The noodling notes abruptly alternate to this behemoth direction, challenging the raw tones of the scratchy guitar notes before breaking out into this buoyant bassline, giving a nod to the likes of the legendary Pretty Girls Make Graves. That focus on the bass, as it boldly dominates the soundscape adds this almighty plunge to the track, as the song escalates towards the chaotic crescendo, a-tota-so fearlessly continues to create layer upon layer into this unruly track as they allow their love for experimental tones to flourish.

Next up, the album welcomes “Spicy Night” ft. Jack Gordon of Irk. Rolling rhythmic guitar scales with this upbeat bounce start to build the atmosphere as Gordon emerges and brings this vibrant yet gritty vocal melody, soaring with this lo-fi commitment through the developing landscape. The musicians continue to develop this progressive world that emits such immersion. From the rich bass lines to the infectious vocal hooks and bolting melodies. One of the more explorative tracks on the album, delving into craters of ardent complexities and sustained chaos.

Sad Lamps” Ft. Ellie Godwin flows, the penultimate track on this plentiful record. This instant vibrance forms’ from the shimmering notes and atmospherical abundance. Ellie Godwin of No Violet lets out this ethereal melody, hooked on the flawless range of this vocalist, those tender notes hit with such velocity, delivered with such power. “Sad Lamps” focuses on the addictive melodies crafted and maintained floating above the angular instrumentation forming, the delicate yet magical vocal harmonies and lustrious lyrics take hold. Easily the most dramatic composition found on this record, a-tota-so triumphantly creates this composition laced with emotion, power, and this defiant tone. The body of this soundscape is something wholly unique in tone. Exploring the raucous rhythms whilst accentuating the might of this vocalist. Blending aggressive angles with the delicate yet expressive vocal melody. This collaboration will leave you in awe.

Finally, the album ends with the huge final track which enters the listeners’ world and immediately changes their mood. This vital and ferocious album closer “When The Waves Come” features Ashley Tubb of Sugar Horse, and captures the weight of all musicians and this impending, crushing urgency. The mammoth soundscape escalates that crucial urgency as the journey embarks on this cutting voyage. Exploring this shattering influence, the kaleidoscopic composition boasts the heaviest of tones and structure, the single is destructive from start to finish whilst blustering this limitless depth. The vast, rapacious vocal tones wail with this valiant effort throughout, capturing this almighty commitment and invasive energy. The baritone notes stop you in your tracks, one of the heaviest, colossal creations you’ll experience.

When the album ends you adjust back to life, reeling from the ample range of emotions you just experienced throughout 8 tracks. This album solidifies a-tota-so‘s compelling potential, their explorative and conceptual sound exudes across this vast range of styles, adding personal touches to each track with the additional vocalists all while retaining the trio’s distinct identity. This album expressly captures the resilience of these musicians, their aim, their vision, and their creativity unflawed.

“Lights Out” is a triumph.



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