By Taylor McAnally
Tatlock — ‘Amoeba and Andromeda’
Off the rip, that’s an amazing cover. Great look getting a piece from Ghostshrimp. It’s incredible how much a good album cover can help the process of digesting a record. Not only does it give the listener something for their eyes to go over while the music plays, in this case I’d say there’s a direct connection between the artwork and the lyrical themes. The construction of much bigger things out of small elements, the differences but more importantly the similarities between our eponymous andromeda and amoeba. Right from the start this record is heady, so let’s get into it!
The presumption I made from the opening tones was that this would be an intensely dense record, filled with byzantine metaphor and images that wouldn’t make sense upon first listen. Yet the first line is ‘I’ve come to the conclusion that any preconceived notions of size are irrelevant’, which I believe is a highly relatable position. From there we move into a heavily First Born-era sounding first salvo. While Tatlock (not to mention 99.9% of rappers, myself included) does not hit the heady technical heights that Eyedea does, the feeling is most certainly there. In addition, Tatlock’s quiet delivery style is reminiscent of Milo or 2mex. He is very much in the vein of the wry emcee, the quick-witted who present themselves demure. One can tell a lot of time, love and effort went into the making of this album.
The sound of the record is spacey, open. The rhymes work and weave around the instrumentation easily. Both portions of what makes the music give to each other and feed the other in interesting ways. This is primarily expressed in the way the keyboards work and adapt to Tatlock’s cadence, low and relaxed. At times, such as on “Knotted//Needless”, I felt that a more aggressive approach would have been more optimal for the energy of the track. That isn’t to say that I was taken out of the experience, far from it. This is music for the mood of introspection, when one’s mind is ready to accept new ideas and to carve new stances in the marble of our own thought patterns. Also, shouts to Tatlock for the very subtle Nine Inch Nails reference in the first bar of “Knotted//Needless”. We see you out there!
At times “Amoeba and Andromeda” feels as if a spoken-word record was involved in a car accident involving a synth-rock outfit and a zen guitarist. Rather than appearing as hodgepodge of influence however, the album has a very concise and clear progression, the themes are pretty universal and all in all I and the people I showed the record to were moved to empathetic conclusions. I can hear/see the sing-along happening very easily to “Shiver”:
I heard that every time a star flickers it’s the planets based around it revolving / heard that every time we think we see it it’s 200 years ago from our ground / I heard that every time a star flickers it’s the planets based around it revolving / and I heard that every time we think it matters there’s another galaxy being found
Ooh damn! Personally I find thematics like that very relatable. Moving further from that, the song pair of “Plastic Makes Perfect” and “And Perfection Is Worthless” return to the Eyedea ground the album had previously been tilling at the beginning. Tatlock moves more into using his voice as an instrument at times here. Were it mixed to be a bigger song I could see this being a banger in many people’s eyes.
Which is my main reservation with the album. While I love the ideas presented here and the way they have been made, the album simply isn’t loud. It is my assumption that this wasn’t Tatlock’s aim necessarily, and I totally grip that and why people wouldn’t automatically go for a mixing and mastering that makes their record as loud as possible, but that is how most music nowadays–Hip Hop in particular–is distributed. As much as an artist may personally not want to make their music loud and bright in this way, not doing so makes it much more likely that the artist’s output will be overlooked, washed out and flooded over by what is now ‘the standard’ level of volume in which we all have to operate. That doesn’t take anything away from this album, at all. It just makes it more difficult for the record to register on the radars of rap listeners.
That is where I’d say we land in finality regarding “Amoeba & Andromeda”. It’s a very pretty, thought-provoking record. The sounds within are composed and arranged with care, the lyrics all positively brined in meaning. This is an album for thinking on, for considering and rolling around in your mind until a point about your own life you might not have considered bubbles to the surface. It is a quiet record, but it is dense with elements to like and enjoy. Just gotta make it louder! Snares need to crack across the face, bass needs to make stomachs shake, synths need to pierce above all of that! In any case, I highly recommend you give this a spin and see what it says to you.
Standout Tracks: “Knotted//Needless” “Matterless” “Shiver”