Atmosphere’s “So Many Other Realities Exist Simultaneously” is packed full of growth

By Daniel Paiz

Photo courtesy of Steaming Kettle PR/Rhymesayers

Atmosphere’s So Many Other Realities Exist Simultaneously is packed full of growth, and each new listen reveals something new. This project started in August 2020, and Slug and Ant have put together something that both consider their best work at the time they were making it. There’s a culmination of the past few years and the past few albums that happens on this project.

If you’re familiar with Aesop Rock’s 2020’s Spirit World Field Guide album, there are hints of that tape on this album. If you recall Atmosphere’s largely slept on 2020 Halloween-themed album The Day Before Halloween, there are a few cuts that sound like tracks that didn’t make that record. There are songs that feel very encapsulated in their topic matter, songs that sound cinematic and have accompanying visuals that reflect that, and just a lot to digest on this project.

What’s also endearing about this new release is just how much there is to get out of it. Some tapes give you the story and you’re all set after a few listens. This one gives you different puzzle pieces on each listen. It isn’t abstract or obtuse really, there’s just different ideas to ponder.

Important tracks, and favorite tracks

Important Tracks

There isn’t a bad track on this project, but there are a few standout creations that need the repeat button. The first track that comes to mind is “Okay”, a track that was written during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and around the time of George Floyd’s murder. South Minneapolis, like many other cities around the United States and the world, was going through a lot. Take a listen to get an idea of what’s being processed at this point in time:

Aliens and cats are a different direction to go in when it comes to how out of world people have been treating each other over the past few years. The solitude of the pandemic mixed in with the larger epiphany across the United States with regards to state and police violence led to a culture powder keg. There was so much going on that it really felt like different realities happening at once. Stand-out lines from this track for this listener were:

Happiness is my favorite physical feature,

but I’m afraid I’ll figure out it’s a mythical creature,


and this one:

You better love yourself today, ‘cause tomorrow it’ll be harder,

put your guard up, don’t let ‘em penetrate your armor,


Both of these lines among all of lyrical jewels on this song were the shiniest. One’s state of mind and viewpoint changes and grows differently as life marches on. The former has one question the validity and realness of what happiness can be; the latter reminds one that there’s a lot out there to harm us, so self-preservation is self-love. Navigating the ever-changing social norms is a learning process, and realizing what’s happening disproportionately is necessary. Processing all of that takes time.

Time is another theme of this project along with growth. This project was started in the middle of a global event, with localized incidents impacting everyday life. What’s also important to consider is that each segment of life impacts a person overall, and the more you have to reflect on, the more there is to learn from and understand at certain checkpoints in life. “Bigger Pictures” does a good job of reminding the listener of this:

Before this visual ever came to light, the feel of this song upon first listen was that western film feel, with the outlaw guitar and wide plains and a sonically high noon kind of feel. Very reflective. Slug is bringing in memories of younger days. This piano run between verses is so mood setting, and thematically adding gravity to the second verse. A standout line that rolled around this listener’s head was:

I realize most experiences are coincidental

But I’ll never let go of these regrets I hold

That’s why the pieces that were missing always felt more special

Better bring some bigger pencils to sketch my soul

-verse 2 from Slug

The drawing we make of ourselves is ever-expanding, changing in ways unexpected and unforeseen. The selection of pencils over pens above hints at how you and I recast and recreate what sketch reveals us. There will be blemishes, parts that can’t be erased away or totally removed. That’s okay though, because to make it through the years that Slug has, to make it through the years that you have, shows life keeps moving.

Photo courtesy of Steaming Kettle PR/Rhymesayers

Favorite tracks

“Okay” takes on the important task of setting the tone on this project, kind of like a reference point as the album proceeds, but it’s also a favorite for this reviewer. There’s a lot to take away from it. There’s a sense of accessibility and approachability permeating throughout that makes it land in both of these categories.

Another track that lands in this section would be “September Fools Day”, a track that first felt from another place in time, to one that’s a bit closer to home. “September Fool’s Day” starts out like a track that sounds like it’d be really good live. The “don’t ever die” part interestingly almost seems like a groundhog’s day type vibe. Discussion of the main character departing life is intriguing, along with the reliance of the narrator on the said character.

I’ll meet you where the memories are buried,

Love was the only material we could carry,


There are certain lines that stick out from this album, and this short one seems both macabre and yet nice. This song feels transformative as the narrator could be transferring between worlds, existences, something. Initially, my reaction was that perhaps with so many realities simultaneously existing, there is the trauma of seeing a version of yourself eliminated in some capacity. The version that sees this is the one that sees all versions eliminated; that could be traumatic and lead to one being devoid of feelings or numb to such feelings. After several rotations, there’s an understanding of how one changes, very similar to “Bigger Pictures”.

A big shift from two tracks mentioned above would be what immediately follows the previous song. “Talk Talk” is very bouncy and energetic from the jump, with some of that Funk that completely changes the mood. There’s a Roger Troutman kind of feel going on with the chorus. Slug then drives things along, dropping verse and chorus in a rapid, sing-song way. Slug drops some compacted verses that are very replayable and jammed with imagery. One of my favorite songs on the project, it sounds like an interdimensional party at times, almost a George Clinton-Parliament Funkadelic tribute track.

Takeaways from this album

Listening to these tracks brought about visions of space and time travel, and travel through different realities at first. With each additional listen, the lyrics brought things closer and closer to home. There’s an epiphany after several listens that the realities being discussed aren’t otherworldly, but rather are different perspectives for people experiencing the same event. It’s a simple approach when realizing that’s what’s happening, but it’s super effective.

No two people will encounter something the exact same way. You and your best friend might absolutely devour and enjoy this new album, but the reasons could be so different that it results in the both of you disliking your friend’s reasoning. The more it’s understood that infinite perspectives and ideas exist, ideally the more human beings will understand each other. Part of why there’s such discord and disunity everywhere is an unwillingness to see other viewpoints. It takes time to learn about others and to learn how to hear other ideas. However, it’s important to do so. This project hints at how a lifetime has taught Atmosphere what shapes realities. Reflection and time fuel growth, with the possibility of opening hearts and minds.


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