Review: Atariame – Completeness


Like water running through my fingers, my efforts to hold and examine each melody are futile. No sooner have I latched onto Atariame’s acoustic guitar than it fades out, as if wandering distractedly into the next room over. Sometimes my attempts are disrupted by fogs of electronics and feedback, which sweep through the frame and reduce the open strums to withered silhouettes in the mist, leaving me clutching at figures that are no longer there. The fact that the album centres primarily on acoustic guitar and voice is pure misdirection; this instrument setup is primed for a bare and direct form of musical expression, yet Atariame wields it here for the inverse. Completeness is a cryptic unravelling, transmitting its message through ambiguous gestures and sudden departures. All throughout, double-tracked voices flicker out of alignment and collapse into bundles of delay, with each vowel vanishing the moment it emerges from the mouth, seemingly snatched away by the very same wind that blows the whole album out of my immediate reach.

It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the whole record was written in the softened logic of late night, just as the mind starts to lean toward sleep and respond to the pulls of dream reasoning. The present moment is forever giving way to an elsewhere: the traced outline of an acoustic song becomes a crossroads of chattering synthesisers, only for the guitar to sweep back in again with sleepwalker’s nonchalance. Only for fleeting moments does she settle upon something stable, kissing the edge of a guitar hook before slipping out of its orbit, returning always to a state of transience. Despite its ethereal and peripheral delivery, the sentiment of Completeness is vivid. Amidst the blurs and breaths is an evocation of yearning, both spiritually and geographically – a nomadism that treats permanent allegiance with suspicion, preferring the twilit terrain of the possible to the illuminated refuge of habitual comforts. It’s easy to misconstrue the album as existing in absent-mindedness, until one realises that the mind is simply fixating on a place that isn’t here.