Cody McPhail performs electronic music of the experimental variety under the moniker of ATOP. Over the past few years, ATOP has cultivated a niche in the Dallas music scene with his Dallas Ambient Music Nights. DAMN has become a meeting point for the audio and video artists that exist in the left-of-center fringes. This week's mix is easily one of the more far-out mixtapes in the series, from an artist that is used to going deep down the rabbit hole.
Dallas Observer: What brought you to electronic music?
ATOP: There could be so many answers to this question, but I am going to go with what I think is the root of my love for electronic sounds — and that would be film and video game soundtracks in the '80s.
What’s going on with DAMN of late?
I feel like Dallas Ambient Music Nights is finally hitting its stride. It makes it easier to book who I want with the bit of street cred DAMN has now. Curating the DAMN series is so much fun. It is the greatest part of running it besides the actual shows themselves. I feel like the shows tell a story about the contemporary and future states within modern culture in the Western hemisphere.
What effect has running DAMN had on your creative process?
It has definitely been a positive influence on my personal creations and within the band that I am a part of, Triangulum. Each Dallas Ambient Music Night is inspirational. There are so many creative and mind-blowing musicians here in Dallas. It is hard not to want to get better at what we do with so much creativity and quality in the art scene here.
What other projects are you involved with besides your solo outings?
As I mentioned before, I am in the band Triangulum. We are a very chill four-piece instrumental, for the most part, a heavily Krautrock-influenced band. We consist of Sean French, who runs Pour Le Corps records, TJ Prendergast, myself and Chad Walls. I think we are pretty great. I feel like I can say that about a band that I am in and love being in. I am more reserved when talking about my music as ATOP.
How was this mix made, and did you have a theme?
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I used Virtual DJ to make this mix. I then mastered it in Soundforge. I would say the theme is openness and serenity. We need a lot more of that in society. These tracks feel very universal to me, in that anyone could enjoy parts of this mix; most will dig the track selections. I have a knack for curating. Making mixes is just a small form of curating a music showcase. I am not a professional DJ, but I love doing it.
Where do you like to dig for new tracks?
I check out Bleep a lot. I buy from them mostly and Bandcamp. Those two resources are enough, but I love getting recommendations from my best friend, Matthew Hanner. He has amazing taste in music. I also check out a lot of genres and search locally within Bandcamp. Search "Dallas synthwave" on Bandcamp and see what comes up.
What was the most profound musical experience you have had in the past year?
It would have to be one of three experiences that have blown my mind wide open this year. First was seeing Filth, Rob Buttrum's solo project, at Rubber Gloves (R.I.P.). He absolutely floored me. Incredible! The second would be M Geddes Gengras' set at DAMN back in June. Holy Moses, that guy is brilliant. So much originality with immense beauty. ... The third musical experience that nearly brought me to an early grave was Black Taffy at the July 2016 DAMN. We were all speechless. ... Should be illegal to have music make you feel that good.
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What gigs do you have in the near future?
I have a gig as ATOP on Sept. 9 at the Crown & Harp. Triangulum is about to release its first album, so we are gearing up for that. Biochimp, which is a project featuring Triangulum members and whomever else we want to play with, is going to perform in DAMN XVIII at RBC on Sept. 17, along with 11 other music acts. This DAMN is going to benefit The No Thanks Festival, run by James Magruder, and it is going to be epic.
03 : David Bowie - Crystal Japan (RCA 1980. 2001 Digital Remaster)
06 : Michael Fakesch - Rand VA (Musik Aus Strom 1999)
09 : Ital Tek - Aquamarine (Planet Mu 2016)
12 : Black Dolphin - Sparrow's fall (Squiggle Dot 2016)
15 : S U R V I V E - A.H.B. (Relapse 2016)
20 : Cluster - Zum Wohl (Sky Records 1976)
26 : Dorval & Devereaux - Hearing Wishes (Moon Glyph 2014)
31 : Mitch Murder - Beach Interlude (Rosso Corsa Records 2010)
33 : Black Taffy - Upright Ape (unreleased)
37 : Container - Insulation (Diagonal 2016)
40 : Personable - Gambetti (Black Opal 2016)
46 : o9 - Seven Milliseconds (Schematic 2000)
50 : Konx-om-Pax - Perc Rave (Planet Mu 2016)
53 : Chad Mossholder - Framework (Artificial Music Machine 2014)
55 : IGLOOGHOST - Peanut Choker (Slugabed Remix) (Brainfeeder 2016)
00 : Squarepusher - Baltang Ort (Warp Records 2015)
06 : Clark - Everlane (Warp Records 2014)