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The Hazy Existentialism of Chase Atlantic's Beauty In Death

The Hazy Existentialism of Chase Atlantic's Beauty In Death

THIS ESSAY WAS ORIGINALLY SHARED MARCH 3, 2021

Chase Atlantic embodies a sonic space in music where creativity and experimentation are the only ruling powers. Now a decade into a career that nobody saw coming, the Los Angeles-based trio is digging deeper than ever into their personal experiences on the evocative and fascinating BEAUTY IN DEATH. It's a whirlwind of hypnotic sounds and heartbreaking poetry that seeks to capture the chaotic nature of life in the spotlight for the sole purpose of holding onto moments that have already passed for as long as it takes to learn something about why we're here in the first place.

That's right, dear reader: Chase Atlantic makes music for anyone experiencing an existential crisis in the modern age. While that may seem like an overanalytical take on a group that writes songs about falling in love with Xanax ("PLEASEXANNY") and making sure their lover experiences the highest level of sexual pleasure one can achieve, it is nonetheless true. Once you pull back the enticing packaging that leans heavily on current cultural references and musical influences that are already making waves in the top 40, what's left is the story of three young men who have traveled the world several times over and achieved their wildest dreams only to realize that success did not fill the void within. That understanding has not stopped them from continuing to try and find a solution, mind you, but it has given them pause.

Who among us can claim that they have never tried to avoid addressing the emptiness they feel within by filling their time with drugs, friends, music, or some combination of all three? I know I have, and to be perfectly honest, I still do. The recognition of the pain that we feel within is just the beginning of a journey that lasts our entire lives, and most will tell you that doing your best to ignore the work that one must do is far more comfortable than grappling with it. We might know that we need to change, but we rarely want to do the work necessary to be the people we believe we are meant to become. It's one of the rare universal experiences that feels very specific to each individual. We like to think that others have it together because the idea that everything feels like it's falling apart to everyone is too much for our souls to bear.

Chase Atlantic has made a career out of chasing that sense of escapism we all long to experience. BEAUTY IN DEATH leverages our collective obsession with celebrity and possessions, ties it to our longing for spiritual freedom, then lures us into a place where we are willing to let our guard down. The trio realizes that those who feel the need to fill moments of silence with braggadocious music and mindless pop songs rarely allow themselves to reach a point where they can look inward and take meaningful stock of their lives. Doing so requires admitting a lack of control, which terrifies most people because, again, we like to tell ourselves we know what's going on. We choose to believe the lies we tell ourselves because we're too afraid to admit how little we know. But when Chase Atlantic channels these ideas through the drug-fueled haze of a trippy alternative pop song such as "I THINK I'M LOST AGAIN" or "EMPTY," such confessions become more comfortable to share.

The spiritual leader Ram Dass once said, "When you take off your mask, it's easier for everyone else to do it." In another speech, he compared the masks we wear to costumes, saying that we work extremely hard to convince ourselves and everyone else that we look how we believe we must so that others will view us as worthy of acceptance. We present our costumes to one another in a manner that asks, "I look like the person I think I am, right? I'm a good person, can't you see that?" But real intimacy comes from removing our costumes altogether. Ram Dass believed the path to true happiness and self-love commands us to expose the sameness between us rather than the disguises we use to appear different or 'other.'

BEAUTY IN DEATH is Chase Atlantic doing the work to make us all more comfortable embracing our utter ignorance toward the reality of existence while also commanding us to recognize our sameness. We can try to bury our pain and suffering in drugs and shiny things while allowing our ego to say that we are essential, but the nagging sensation that we've barely scratched the surface of what it means to live remains. The only meaning that anything on this floating rock hurling through infinite has is the meaning that we give it. For far too long, we've allowed our culture to promote the idea that pointless stuff matters when in reality, we don't need most of what we spend our lives obsessing over. We are desperate for each other, and Chase Atlantic uses their platform to urge listeners to rip off their masks and hold tight to anyone who gives a damn. They've learned a lesson that most don't realize until far too late, and that is the fact that we are all we have, so reach out, speak your truth, and create spaces that allow others to do the same.