The Airborne Toxic Event by The Airborne Toxic Event

9 September 2019

I first experienced the magic of The Airborne Toxic Event on a ride home one day. My mom and I were sitting in our car and suddenly the sound of a symphony playing a dark melody came streaming through the speakers. As the orchestra faded, a single guitar playing a series of repeated notes like little bells filled our ears. And then his voice, his haunting voice filled with anguish and torment sang out passed the gloom: “And it starts, Sometime around midnight, Or at least that’s when, You lose yourself, For a minute or two…” I remember looking at my mom and she looking back. There were smiles on our faces. Dreamy smiles like after a perfect kiss. Of course, I immediately went home and found the CD.

The Airborne Toxic Event is an American alternative rock band from Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Mikel Jollett, spurred by personal tragedies such as the diagnosis of his mother’s cancer and his own diagnosis of a genetic autoimmune disease which developed two skin conditions (Alopecia areata and Vitiligo), turned from writing novels to writing songs. Interestingly, the band’s name was taken from a postmodern novel entitled White Noise by Don DeLillo; in the book, the military dubbed a chemical spill from a railcar, thus releasing a poisonous cloud, an “airborne toxic event”.

The Airborne Toxic Event’s self-titled album begins with “Wishing Well”, a song that’s theme is the desire for something ANYTHING to happen to break the monotony. As the song fades, “Papillon” begins, serenading the listener with words depicting isolation and loneliness. Finally, it seems, the listener is confronted with “young love” in the upbeat song “Gasoline”, the album’s first single. Other themes in Jollett’s music include the weightlessness when someone says “I love you”, the tragedy of a breakup such as in “Does This Mean You’re Moving On?” and “Sometime Around Midnight” (which both commemorate Jollett’s breakup with a former girlfriend), the anxiety of moving on and uncertainty of finding someone new, and finally, the ache of loss.

In conclusion, there is no comparison to the beauty, sadness, and complexity of The Airborne Toxic Event’s music. I anticipate the band’s next album which is tentatively scheduled to be released in 2011.

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