Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Atlas Sound - Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel

Bradford Cox, the gangly, outspoken front man of Deerhunter, released another lesser hyped but equally great album last year. His side project, Atlas Sound, charts a similar course but leans more toward the experimental with a higher emphasis on texture. Layers of shimmering guitars; barbed, synthetic strings; ethereal pads; softly harmonized vocals; warm bottom end and tempered, skeletal drums create a sound somewhere between twinkling shoegaze and glossy ambient pop.

Beginning with a recording of a child talking about ghosts, the album materializes with a gradually overdubbed wave of electronic, jangling atmospherics. This escalates until the child's voice is eclipsed; fading from audibility. The rising aural tide proceeds giving way to the laid-back dreamy shuffle of Recent Bedroom. Quarentine’s chimey, synthetic vibraphones; rich, soothing bass line and velvety backing vocals provide a marked and pleasing contrast to the percussive crashing of shakers, rides and drum fills.

The heavily time-processed Ativan, with its surfy guitar and tambourine accented beat, plays like some British-invasion-era jam in an arena-sized echo chamber. This saccharine current continues with the faintly throbbing, heart-beat-like pulse of Winter Vacation and the drum-less On Guard, whose soothing liquified synths evoke the cliché of St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.

Close to half of the songs are sans-drums, including the title track which rounds out the lot. By far my favorite piece on the album, Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel inundates with a profusion of fragrant sonics. Church organs, synthesized pads, vibraphones and guitar distortion melt together into a sweet deluge that washes over; enveloping the listener in a haze of ambient bliss. This unraveling, this fade into entropy, is an altogether fitting end to an album that seemingly materializes out of thin air- the whole thing could be an aberation of the small child at the beginning telling ghost stories.

Another gem from a guy who seems to be only just beginning to hit his creative stride. Be sure to check out the latest Deerhunter: Microcastles/Weird Era Continued as well. Out now on Kranky.


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