Atlas Jungle has been described as jam/house/psychedelic rock/funk, and that complicated, extensive, all-inclusive description is a fairly accurate one. They’ve named Talking Heads and Thievery Corporation as influences, as well as jam band Phish, jam band primary inspiration Grateful Dead and every guitarist’s dream musician, Jimi Hendrix.
Working out of New Haven, CT, this group features two pioneering members: Jeremy Spang, who plays keyboards, comes up with the samples and sings; and Nathan Bryant, who holds down the bass. When playing live, this duo many times doubles in size to four members by adding on a percussionist and a guitarist. This CD release includes Jamaal Bryant on drums and Eric Lichter playing drums.
“The music we create is inspired by spirituality and the energy that live concerts and the experiences around them have imparted to us,” Spang has been quoted as saying. “These experiences have changed the way our minds relate to our perceptions to the point where it is a daily occurrence to remember how music has changed our lives. Its always in our heads and so the wish to create our own music comes very naturally.”
The group’s latest release, From the Dirt, reflects ultimate creativity – after all, the Biblical account has God creating humans from the dust. Tracks include both instrumentals and ones with vocals added. Whenever Spang sings, as he does during “Snow Cat,” he kind of comes off as a stoner; it’s just how his voice sounds. The aforementioned track is bass-y, along with low-end synth blurps.
The instrumental “Pythagoras,” is likely named after the ancient Greek philosopher. It’s built upon some ferocious interplay between bass and electric guitar, atop some slightly jazzy percussion.
“Space Being,” has a bit of a Miles Davis vibe going for it. This may be due to the track’s prominent electric piano part. “The Cave,” which might also allude to something philosophical, is the most rocking track on the project. Although it has some electronic keyboard running through it as well, it also features an insistent bass line and Steve Cropper-esque electric guitar punches.
One is left with the impression that, although From the Dirt is good, the listener imagines these musicians are even better live. You just know these guys must love stretching out and improvising in concert. In fact, Atlas Jungle is proud to say that no song is ever played the same way twice live – visually or sonically. (With the group’s light shows, these are presumably also somewhat improvised, much like the music).
Spang is also the founder of two holistic operations. One is called Mudra Mushroom Tea, and is a functional beverage specifically intended for use in meditation for the purpose of relieving stress. The second is something called a float tank center. Located in Guilford CT, it is said to offer Spang’s local community “the ability to refresh and reset their minds in a sensory deprivation float tank.”
It’s a curious paradox that these musicians use modern lighting and instrumentation, yet seem to be so organic – for lack of a better term – when offstage. But it’s a jungle out there, so people need all the stress relief – no matter what form that relief might take – they can get.