The beats here are pure concrete. Techno for cold, hard surfaces. Yet it’s crucial that these beats are robust, otherwise Atlas – just like its mythical globe-carrying namesake – would be crushed under the weight that rests upon its shoulders. In this case, the rhythmic propulsion plays support to all manner of electronic recklessness: synthesiser loops cranked into the red, feedback flailing like a dropped firehose, and the congealment of all of these into a layer of overdriven fuzz. At points the burden becomes too much. “Perverse Incentive” is prematurely drowned in a wave of noise, the beat crumbling into shrill, whistling amplifier lament after a couple of minutes. For most of its duration elsewhere, Atlas sits right on the brink – quivering under the load, wincing as Mazut apply one extra decibel at a time, ready to fracture at the moment it becomes too much. The endings of these tracks aren’t simply the sound of an idea running its course, but of structural integrity giving way; of chaos getting the better of rhythmic regimen.
I love the way that Mazut wield duration. The record itself is, by some measures, too long. 54 minutes of imminent collapse. I’ve heard albums like this that slip into the background as repetition wears them down, reduced from cacophony to a benign laundromat drone via the tempering powers of acquaintance. Atlas never feels anything less than urgent, cruelly renewing the state of insistence over and over again. As for the tracks themselves; sometimes it feels as though the band are labouring the point, and that’s because labour is the point – the heady edge of exhaustion brings with it a state of euphoria, as every pore gapes open to absorb the extremity of experience. Listen loud and feel something.