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Little Atlas: Automatic Day

It's been 5 years, but the US progressive rock act that calls themselves Little Atlas have returned to the scene with their latest release for 10t Records, titled Automatic Day. If you dug both Hollow and Wanderlust, their two most recent efforts, chances are you'll really enjoy this tasty 'little' treat from this Florida collective. 10t Records, as always, have done a marvelous job on the presentation of this fine CD, complete with glorious artwork & graphics from label honcho Steve Carroll, superb production from the band, a nice mix courtesy of bassist Rik Bigai, and an awesome mastering done by non other than Grammy winner Joe Palmaccio.

As with previous albums from Little Atlas, the focus is generally on the sumptuous vocal melodies & harmonies, expertly backed up by crisp, tight instrumentation. Though this is without a doubt a 'prog-rock' album, the band rarely goes off into endless meanderings, instead making every note count and all-important to the overall craft of each song. A perfect example is the muscular and quite adventurous "Twin of Ares", a memorable track that features some intense musical passages that complement the song and provide plenty of drama-virtuoso guitar & keyboard work for sure, but never overindulgent by any means. Crisp, melodic rockers like "Apathy" and "Illusion of Control" fluctuate from passionate sections to moments of almost progressive metal bombast along the lines of Dream Theater , while the moodier, and quite lush tracks "Emily True" and "At the End of the Day" just soar with emotional vocal performances from keyboard player Steve Katsikas. At times I'm reminded a bit of UK acts like Pendragon, IQ, and Arena on some of these pieces. Gotta love the catchy line 'A penny for your thoughts would leave you a rich man inside' on the dreamy "We All Remember Truth", a thoroughly addicting tune that mixes lush prog with hook laden pop, and the darker, mysterious title track is a must hear for fans of Porcupine Tree.

Basically, Automatic Day is full of alluring melodies and layer upon layer of intelligent, crisp musical arrangements. Toss in plenty of insightful, thought provoking lyrics and you have another winner from Steve Katsikas, Roy Strattman, Mark Whobrey, and Rik Bigai.

Track Listing
1) Oort
2) Apathy
3) Twin of Ares
4) Emily True
5) At the End of the Day
6) Illusion of Control
7) Darvocet Eyes
8) We All Remember Truth
9) Automatic Day
10) Escape Velocity

Added: September 5th 2013
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 3640
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Little Atlas: Automatic Day
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-09-05 17:29:05
My Score:

Veteran prog rockers Little Atlas have been around for well over a decade having released their first album Neverworldly in 1998. It has been quite a long time since their last release Hollow (2007) so to say the band was due for a new album is an understatement and I have to say the band has hit all the right cylinders with Automatic Day. It is excellent.

In the band are Steve Katsikas (vocals, keyboards), Roy Strattman (guitars, vocals, keyboards), Mark Whobrey (drums, backing vocals) and Rik Bigai (bass). Let me tell you these guys can flat out play. From the arrangements to the songwriting to the musicianship, there are no weak links in this band. Folks, if you like melodic prog this is the band for you.

Upon listening to the album's first track "Oort" I knew this was going to be a special album. Impassioned lead vocals, delicate acoustic guitar, heavy riffs, floating keys and excellent drums, this song is just a great way to start an album. The song veers between different themes and tempos, always returning to the main theme that is as catchy as they come.

The next track "Apathy" starts softly, conveying a moody vibe. Keyboards are used to augment the dreamy sound invoking images of Pink Floyd. Eventually the song changes course and heavier beats, riffs and keys fill the soundscape. The change ups and tempo changes are done so well it all seems completely natural, each part integral to the structure of the song.

In "Emily True" the heavier riffs and changes are again done flawlessly. The keyboards at one point reminded me of "On The Run" era Pink Floyd. IQ also came to mind at times and the bass line is something that Rush might have come up with.

"At the End of the Day" is another winner running the gamut from delicate to intense, soft to heavy, all the while maintaining that stick in your head melody this band is so good at. I could go on but I will let your ears discover the rest.

Little Atlas are one of the best melodic prog bands around right now and Automatic Day proves it. I have a feeling this will remain in my CD player for many weeks to come and will no doubt make my 'best of' list come years end. Released on 10T Records.

Little Atlas: Automatic Day
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-08-03 11:35:59
My Score:

Announcing their return to action with a free Official Live Bootleg DVD release last year, Miami progressive rock outfit Little Atlas now provide their first selection of new music for some five years. In ways it is like they've never been away, with the sumptuous mix of traditional prog values, cutting edge sound and clever atmospheres staying close to the approach that has made previous releases such as Wanderlust or Hollow as interesting and involving as they are. However in other ways it is clear that Little Atlas have had time to absorb some new flavours and ideas, presenting an album in Automatic Day that should appeal to the crop of new progressives coming through who favour bands like Porcupine Tree or Riverside.

Vocally this album finds Little Atlas stretching out, with singer and keyboard player Steve Katsikas employing a varied attack than runs the gamut from introspective and fragile to ebullient and full bodied. However what highlights this aspect best are intricate vocal arrangements and harmonies which add a gloriously glossy sixties air to music that happily covers four decades of progressive ideals. Often Katsikas adds string-synth, one of the main aspects which reminds of Porcupine Tree, but then on other occasions it is a more traditional wash of backing atmospheres that comes through. However as you'd expect the real strength comes from the manner in which he and guitarist Roy Strattman combine. "Oort" weaves into view, off kilter scales laying the basis from which a foreboding vibe grows even as the guitars chime out melodically, busy percussion adding to the effect as Mark Whobrey infuses energy without the need to up the pace. Although in other areas the ability of Little Atlas to add tempo changes ensures the music always retains the attention in that fashion as well. The laid back "Apathy" which follows is an even greater example of how to make reserved ideas vitally energetic, while "Twin Of Ares" clashes mid-era Genesis against a modern PTree feel, with bassist Rik Bigai laying down a roaming funk of thunder as the song grows from mid-paced intricacy to full on assault.

Made up of seven, seven minute plus tracks and three shorter numbers, the likes of the threatening "Emity True" and thumping "Illusion Of Control" are given the time and room to evolve into and out of disparate sections, feeling expertly crafted and cohesive as they do so. Whereas the shorter "Escape Velocity" or "We All Remember Truth" are more pointedly focused bursts staying true to one single theme from start to finish. The end results being an album which offers up a fine blend of styles, yet which works marvellously well as one long listening experience.

Little Atlas have created a release which should satisfy a whole host of progressive rock fans, making Automatic Day an automatic choice for anyone who considers prog to be their tipple of choice.

» Reader Comments:

Little Atlas: Automatic Day
Posted by Rob Sterling on 2013-06-11 20:09:59
My Score:

This is an amazing CD, and by far the best that Little Atlas has ever released. Much darker than anything prior, it brims with tasty musicianship and mellotrons galore!

But don't take my word for it - check out the video for the first track. This gives you a great idea of everything that follows (which isn't to say it's all the same). This is a real highlight of 2013 for me. Highest recommendations!

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