After about the third listen, I fell in love with this album.
It all suddenly locked into place: the beats, the lyrics, and yes, the ‘atmosphere’. Their new album possesses a wave of sincerity that connected with me on a profoundly personal level, and just like that, Whenever had gone from a peripheral on my train of thought to something I could absorb and feel a part of. I’m now hooked.
Atmosphere have been dishing out hip hop grooves for more than two decades, and whether or not you are familiar with their previous work, you will not fail to grasp that this latest record possesses a refined sense of wisdom, born from experience both in the rap industry and life in general. Atmosphere talk about the big things and the little things as if they are one, painting a three-dimensional picture of life with all the ups and downs that come with it.
Right at the record’s start, you get that intensive swill of gentle and rough, from the suitably smooth opening of “Bde Maka Ska” through to the hard and heavy follow-up “Push Play”. From that point onward, the album delivers consistent bouts of laid-back but substantial sounds and lyrical food for thought. You can mentally drift during the slick grooves of “Love Each Other” and the edgy licks of “Romance”; you can get fully lost in the reflective, but my no means lazy sounds of “The Hands of Time”. Whenever‘s hearty track list ensures that there is enough to keep you going and anticipating. You won’t drink it all in first time around, so replays aplenty will beckon.
Title track “Whenever” acts as an album checkpoint, whereby the intensity ramps up that little bit more thereafter. For the final act, Atmosphere increase the depth of their lyrics, and the instrumental elements take on a heightened level of substance. As “Son of Abyss” and “You’re Gonna Go” sound off with some wealthy emotional intent, you will no doubt receive the closure you felt like you needed, and by the time the album’s last track “The Ceiling” bids farewell, mental satisfaction is well and truly maxed.
Along the way, you were made to feel uplifted and, on a few occasions, vulnerable, but the patented smooth serenading of the vocals ensures that those feelings are always portrayed in a diplomatic and accessible manner. There is no question that Atmosphere are pros in the field, and there really isn’t a bad thing you can say about this record. Whenever is about as focused, even-tempered, and full-bodied as you can get. As I said previously, it might take a few goes for it to click, but when it does, you will most likely be held at its sublime mercy, right up until the final track. In a world of chaos, this humble rap outfit make no pretences on offering a solution, but they do succeed in providing yet another emotionally digestible and largely spiritual product that might just put you in the right frame of mind for the day.