Inspiration Through Music: Atra Aeterna

(photo and artwork above copyrighted to Zach Mitchell)

As I’ve mentioned before several times, ambient music is my cup of tea. It’s the kind of music that inspires me the most while working on a book because I find these songs to just be so much deeper and easier to get lost in. They are like their own little worlds where in we can see fragments of characters, scenes, and circumstances. I keep a playlist on Spotify (okay, a couple) of just ambient, instrumental music (usually of the more dark sounding nature) from which I can work on my Monstrum Chronicles series and my new apocalyptic fiction, Cold Walls. At the core of this playlist is a musician whom I discovered a couple years ago on Bandcamp when I was searching for Martin Stig Anderson’s amazing Limbo Soundtrack. I discovered Atra Aeterna and his album “Machinations”. Folks, I discovered gold that day.

Atra Aeterna is a musical project of Zach Mitchell, whose focuses on light and darkness are the basis of his compositions. His compositions are very similar to those from Akira Yamaoka, who composes the music for the Silent Hill video game series among other things. I was drawn to Atra Aeterna’s music because of the emotion in it. It is so easy for me to put myself inside of one of these songs and imagine someone else’s life to the harmonies of the music. I enjoy losing myself inside of music that way. I love being inspired by this kind of music. Ethereal, poignant, eerie, heartbreaking, and gorgeous; this only the beginning of Atra Aeterna’s music. Today, I’m going to share four of his songs with you and what I see when I listen to them. Everything you find in the descriptions below is from my latest project, “Cold Walls.” Enjoy!

Emergence: Static. Life stops moving for seconds… turning into minutes… into hours. She sits at the end of the hospital bed, resigned to smelling the chemicals and the antiseptic. Here in this ultra-safe room, she thinks that maybe if she shuts the door she can exist on a different plane entirely, one where the world waits for her to adjust. Blocking out the voices of others who are ignorant and the obligations of tomorrow, she could conceivably live in this space. But it isn’t right. Sooner or later, she will have to leave it. Things cannot go back to the way they were. But somehow she has to try and make them. This room couldn’t hold a life, only consume one.

Release: Within the confines of the cave, completely immersed in blackness, he made his way down the tight tunnel. He thought back on all he’d left behind. She wasn’t far from his thoughts, her flowing blonde hair and sea green eyes trapped in his mind’s eye. Would there ever be a way to find her again? Was it too late? He wasn’t even sure he could find a way out of these labyrinthine caves, much less find her. He’d hidden in them hours ago and subsequently, forgotten the routes he’d taken. The dripping of water from stalactites echoed around him, further throwing him off. He wasn’t even sure if it was day or night. He gripped the survival knife close to him as he made for another craggy passage. He’d find an opening sooner or later. He had to. He wasn’t about to resign to dying alone in a cave.

Monolithium: When he looked at her, memories flitted by him as if they were birds. They never stayed too long, eager to fly away and chase the wind. The pictures weren’t in order, their timing in his life out of sync. When had this happened? And that? He remembered holding her, comforting her. He remembered how close they had been as friends. But everything else… it couldn’t have happened. This wouldn’t have happened. He wouldn’t have done this to his wife. Shock trickled down through him like a drug through an IV. It wasn’t possible. He looked at her asleep across the room and wondered what circumstances had drawn them together that night. What had been so grave that it had pulled him from his wife’s loving arms into this woman’s instead? The more he tried to force the memories, the more they resisted him. Would he ever remember?

Black Fog: She stared at the black trees beyond the car window as they drove by. Silent, solemn, and still, they were like paintings against the grey sky that cold morning, no hints of life sprouting from them. The sun was masked by dark cumulus, the impending snow all the more unwelcome in her eyes. They needed to get somewhere today. They couldn’t afford to get waylaid because of more inclement weather. They had only driven fifty miles in the last two days. And what had happened in the last town only made her want to keep driving. They couldn’t stay around here. It was too dangerous. She looked at him in the driver’s seat, eyes focused completely on the road. He hadn’t said a word since they’d left, still in a state of shock. What they’d escaped from back there was horrific. She wasn’t sure she could cope with it either. But she knew that losing herself in that pain would only be more hazardous to them. They had to keep their eyes and ears open. They could run into anything out here.

Atra Aeterna’s official website can be found here. His digital albums are set at a very, very reasonable price and all contain beautiful tracks that inspire many, many scenes for books, or art.

His facebook can also be found here, where he regularly posts new material that he’s working on as well as deals and information about his work. Please follow and support this tremendously talented musician!



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