Austin’s avant-garde outfit Atlas Maior recently dropped a new album, entitled Riptide, a collection of progressive and American jazz, traditional Middle Eastern music, and cool Latin spice.
Made up of Joshua Thomson (alto sax), Charilie Lockwood (oud), Josh Peters (oud), and Ted Camat (drums, percussion), Atlas Maior’s unique melodies revolve around maqamat, a Middle Eastern “system of scales, habitual melodic phrases, modulation possibilities, ornamentation techniques and aesthetic conventions that together form a rich melodic framework and artistic tradition.”
Supported by showcase performances from Robert Riggio (violin), Gary Calhoun James (double bass), Tarik Hassan (double bass), and Sari Andoni (oud), the album was produced by Thomson and Lockwood, mixed by Gary Calhoun James, and mastered by Carl Saff.
Describing the album, Thomson says, “Our 5th studio release Riptide is the culmination of many creative ideas that have come to fruition. This is the band’s most polished album and it’s informed by our experiences working together, and the struggles and achievements we’ve experienced as people. There’s a lot of depth, emotion, and expression within the songs on Riptide. Themes of loss, gain, resilience, and perseverance are all in there.”
Atlas Maior has toured in France, Spain, and Turkey, sharing the stage with Vieux Farka Toure, Tal National, and Josh T. Peterson, along with performing at Austin Days, Pueblos Blanco, Wobeonfest, Art Outside, and SXSW.
Riptide opens with “The Curse,” a jazz-flavored Middle Eastern tune full of deliciously drawling ouds topped by an oozing saxophone. The combination of oud and double bass savors infuses the tune with dual layers of alluring coloration.
Entry points on the album include “Chamber of Mirrors,” traveling on an enchanting, penetrating violin backed by shimmering oud accents. Swaggering tones from the violin infuse the intro with stunning dynamism, followed by ebullient harmonic soundscapes riding compact syncopated percussion. The sax on this track seethes with piercing sonic hues.
“Trata” opens on a sensual double bass topped by luscious vibrating oud tones flowing into an intensely evocative Middle Eastern jazz-embellished melody. A magnificently squalling, keening sax imbues the music with tight, searing aromas. “Iddaa!!” travels on buttery oud tones supported by erotically-drenched tones from a dripping wet sax.
With Riptide, Atlas Maior delivers singularly imaginative proximate soundscapes, undeniably lush and impressive.
ATLAS MAIOR TOUR DATES
5/14 Brooklyn, NY — at Sister’s BKLN BMH welcomes Atlas Maior (Austin, TX) 8pm
5/15 Brooklyn, NY — at Rubulad: Walk Talk, Kev Bev, Holy Hand Grenade and Atlas Maior! with Kev Bev
5/18 Asheville, NC — at Static Age-Records: Atlas Maior at Static Age — Records (Austin, TX Jazz Oriental) 7pm
5/18 Asheville, NC — House Concert with Pocket Sounds 5pm
5/20 New Orleans, LA — at SideBar Nola: Atlas Maior (Austin, TX) at SideBar, NOLA — Jazz Oriental
5/24 Austin, TX — Stay Gold: Atlas Maior Riptide: Album Release Show