ATOP “777” C45 (Wood Between Worlds)

There’s just so much back story here it’s hard to know where to begin. ATOP is Akkad the Orphic Priest, aka M. C. McPhail, an electronic ambient experimental synthesizer guru indebted to the school of the Kosmische. But that doesn’t even scratch the surface. Akkad is a character in Monsieur by Lawrence Durrell, which I haven’t read, because I’ve just heard of it right this second! Many of you may be feeling a similar wave of immersion fear, an anxiety that you’re about to be out of your element. That fear is correct, and warranted. Read on.

So Akkad is part of this “secret society” that I’ll less generously but still generously refer to as a “cult.” Neophytes become adepts, adepts are killed once they reach the highest form of human consciousness, an act referred to as a great gift within the teachings of the group. It’s kind of like Logan’s Run but with a much more arbitrary endpoint. Ever see Lord of Illusions with Scott Bakula? The cult of Nix was the one that had that pet baboon for, I don’t know, intimidation? This cult sounds like that one, although the music made as ATOP sounds nothing like what’s in my head as I picture the everyday rigors of blood ritualistic life.

Nope. ATOP makes music that would easily fit the Constellation Tatsu mold, meditative, cosmic, and divine. “The Need to Belong Parts 1 & 2” takes up the entirety of side A, 23 minutes of gently shifting interstellar particles, dense with energy and meaning. Side B begins with “View and Vision,” as inviting and graceful in its ambient drift as any synth composition is likely to be, and at only 5:38, a great entry point for newbies. Play “View and Vision” for your friends at parties! They’re likely to shut it off and be angry at you, sure, but it’s because you’re at a party, and 777 isn’t Big Willie Style. Tell them you’ll play it for them later. “The Cosmic Battle” features what can only be galactic war drums, or at least it’s the percussion of your pursuers as they come to kill you. Look what you did, achieving higher consciousness! Why would you do that? It’s dangerous!

Perfect for headphones, ideal for meditation, 777 is a great entry into the modern synthesizer/Kosmische catalog. Beware the expanding of your mind, for it will truly happen, and when it does, you’ll need to watch your back. Or not, if you’re crazy enough to think your demise is a good thing. But trust me, it’s not! I’ve been to the other side and it’s … weird.

--Ryan Masteller