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The best kept secret in music


"Smother (Editor's Pick)"

Downtempo vibes and beats are twisted with incredible female vocals for the next branch off of Portishead. Wade Alin is the main songwriter and programmer and he enlisted Lauren Cheatham to provide the backdrop of gorgeous vocals that help recall the aforementioned Portishead, as well as Lamb and Bjork. Trip-hop blended this well with electronica, downtempo, and orchestral rock isn’t often properly ordained. But “Metropolitan” is a new ministry at which to worship stunning and powerful music delivered with a subtleness that betrays its true gifted clout.

- J-Sin -

"Igloo Magazine Review"

(09.11.05) The last time I saw Wade Alin, he was on stage surrounded by a crashing surf of buzz-saw guitars and chaotic electronics, howling into a microphone as if he was straining to vomit up his heart. The band was Christ Analogue, one of those vaguely industrial machines filled with the clatter of wrecked machinery, brittle electronics and ephedrine-fueled guitars. Imagine my surprise to hear Metropolitan, the record by his new project, Atomica, where the angst is traded for heartbreak, the guitars for violins and the cold clatter of jilted machinery has been swapped out for the warm morphine drip of a trip-hop inflected turntable. It's not that Alin's gone soft on us; he's just deigned to remove the metallic shell and let us touch the tender flesh beneath.

It isn't his voice you will hear on Metropolitan. Discovering evocative chanteuse Lauren Cheatham when he first relocated to Chicago (following many years in New York City), Alin realized her voice was the anchor of the record. She is the elegiac angel who adds an organic warmth to the songs as she channels Portishead's Beth Gibbons through a veil of thick silk while Alin surrounds her with a wealth of strings and brass and electronic equipment.

"Bittersweet" hangs on the cusp of a turntable loop, a tiny cry of warped vinyl that sounds like it was rescued from the Portishead Dummy sessions and let loose in Alin's studio to make small bird noises from the corner of the room while Cheatham's fragile ballad is laid down over a bed of strings. Static from an old record haunts Alin's siren in "Gun" as she sighs through an old microphone: "If I knew now / How to learn from the past / I would be who I wanted to be." A rusted loop plays behind the sordid rhythm section (stolen from the corner jazz lounge where they've been trapped for a decade or more) and tiny ephemera from a phantom guitar whispers and pleads beneath her voice, lending desperation to her sad tale. Percussion echoes through "Pollen," the sort of reverberation which rattles throughout an abandoned building (or heart) while Cheatham's narrative voice travels through a bustling city (that echo of sound again) and yet never manages to not be alone.

A bleak despair bleeds through Alin's retrospective re-creation of his time in New York City, and Lauren Cheatham adds such a weary worldliness to his lyrics that to listen to Metropolitan is to hear how a city can break your heart over and over again. But Alin's efforts through Atomica aren't to break things, but to move through and rectify the destruction of the past. He wants to gather all the pieces and fit them together once again. "You can't say I've never tried to love you / You can't say I've never tried to die for you," Cheatham sings in "Salt," and her voice, tarnished by the persistent weight of the city, remains pure at its core. The music of Metropolitan is suffused with the melancholy that so pervades trip-hop but Alin and company never succumb to the entropic end inherent in its decay.

Metropolitan is out now on Positron Records.

_M.Teppo - Igloo Magazine

"Collected Sounds Review"

Atomica is Wade Alin, Lauren Cheatham & Percy Trayanov. This is a lot of sound coming out of three people. Metropolitan is a very atmospheric record. At times it seems they are channeling Portishead. Lead singer, Lauren Cheatham’s voice even sounds like Beth Gibbons sometimes, especially on “Bittersweet”.

On “One Day In New York City” her voice comes in quietly distorted in the lower corner of my right ear. The first time I heard it I almost turned around because it felt like there was someone behind me.

Atomica makes lovely, layered, atmospheric, dream pop. These songs are very melodic for this genre. Usually bands such as this tend to rely too much on the toys they’re working with and less on actual songwriting. Not so for this band. The melodies are enchanting and haunting. But the toys make lovely sounds as well.

This is a great trip-hop, dreamy pop record.

-Amy Lotsberg - Collected Sounds


Aug. 2005 - Metropolitan (Positron! Records)
April 2006 - Komposi003 (Positron! Records)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Devised in 2001 by programmer/songwriter Wade Alin, the writing for Metropolitan is heavily influenced by Alin’s experiences living in New York and by the tone of the city.

After relocating to Chicago, Alin began to execute his vision for Atomica. He was fortunate enough to happen upon a relatively unknown yet evocative vocalist in Lauren Cheatham. Together they began recording the preliminary tracks for Metropolitan, ultimately adding drummer Rey Guajardo to the mix.

Metropolitan maneuvers effortlessly through genres, incorporating elements of trip hop, orchestral, downtempo, and lo-fi, all the while illustrating a compelling story of loss, affliction, collapse and recovery through Alin's unadorned writing approach and Cheatham's impassioned delivery. and while fans of Portishead, Bjork, and Lamb are certain to appreciate - Metropolitan introduces a sound that is distinctly Atomica.