“…(SATMC) ensemble crafts hazy, haunting tunes that frequently creep past the eight-minute mark, richly-layered meditations that float in the cold zone between forlornness and a vaster cosmic awe….wade through shimmering quietude—and frequently build into a cyclical, ritualistic roar that comes across like a Southern Sigur Rós.”
Forged in late summer nights surrounding a dying bonfire at Camp 1538, Spirits and the Melchizedek Children began as Jason Elliott’s acoustic rambling. SATMC has since grown to include keyboardist Chris Case (Samadha, Adron, Little Tybee), drummer Bryan Fielden (San Agustin, Oryx and Crake), guitarist Andrew Burnes (San Agustin), bassist Joe McNeill and the newest addition of guitarist Ryan Odom (Iron Jayne, Damon Moon). The band will be releasing a new album entitled So Happy, It’s Sad March 4, 2014.
SATMC, or Spirits as both are commonly used abbreviations, first released We Are Here to Save YOU! with current members Elliott, Case, and McNeil alongside former members Darrin Harrison and Craig Henderson, guitar and drums respectively. Recorded in 2010 with Ed Rawls at The Living Room and mixed by Jason McCullough, it – complete with its salvaging title – was released in 2011. Afterwards, SATMC membership went through changes including a brief materialization made up of only Elliott’s vocals and guitar alongside Case’s keys. This span of controlled burning provided renewed vision and purpose for the project and (insert Phoenix rising from ashes reference here) the current lineup emerged.
Moving from a tumultuous place to a strangely peaceful one, the band ventured forth releasing LOOK!, a single that debuted and embodied this new “spirit”. Recorded by Ryan Peoples (Oryx and Crake), mixed by Jonathan Rhum and mastered by Joel Hatstat, LOOK! was released in 2012 as a split 7” with Atlanta’s Order of the Owl. Continuing to build their Atlanta tribe, SATMC honed their sound and received praise from Creative Loafing Music Editor Chad Radford, who wrote of the band as “[creating] a sparse, ghostly, art-folk din that moves from a 4 a.m. whisper of distant, lonely strumming and moaning to a roar of tape hiss.”
So Happy, It’s Sad was recorded at Benjamin Price’s Studilaroche, where Ben engineered and produced the collection, boasts a new and boldly refined, yet deeply primal and organic sound from the group. Additional players joined the fold, helping round out this special place in time: Mel Parsonz of Royal Thunder contributed her powerful vocals while Matt Jarrard, Ryan Gregory, Taylor Mummford, Benjamin Price and Johnny Rhum beautifully complimented with strings, brass, percussion, and additional electronics.
The band has recently road tested the new songs on a 7week National tour.
They released, with the support of Atlanta’s Fallen Arrows, the single Song Bird’s Grave on a limited-edition 7” with the B side featuring a remix by Magicicada. Envisioned as an opening act for the main attraction, SATMC deeply anticipates sharing the entirety of So Happy, It’s Sad as a complete work with the world. In Elliott’s words, “This record is quite the celebration of the bitter/sweet experiences that we all face throughout our lives…somewhat of a letter from us to you. I would hope that you can take the wonderfully awful elements in your life and make them into pretty ones!”
Coming into light on the other side, So Happy, It’s Sad bears the weight of life in all of its trials, tribulations, and wonder, but undeniably imbues a feeling of completeness and unity. Evolving from crackling static into sonorous melody and back again, SATMC has a melodic sensibility woven into the chaotic fabric of their haunting arrangements. Unapologetically unexpected and comfortingly familiar, Spirits and the Melchizedek Children’s tangibly ambient appeal continues to provide the soundtrack to lost summers, new loves, and the hopeful yearning of beginning again.