October 31, 2009

Atlas Sound - Logos

logos cover Deerhunter front man Bradford Cox is a dedicated blogger who is well-known for relishing his fans with tonnes of free music released under the moniker Atlas Sound on his blog. He releases so much that only a dedicated fan would bother to wade through the vast amounts of half-baked ideas to find the best ones. So it would be easy for Cox to have his commercial releases be just some sort of ‘best-of’ blog releases. But we all know that he simply does not work that way. Through his blog, media interaction and, most importantly, his music, we see that Cox feels music very deeply and takes it very seriously. So Logos, the second full length released as Atlas Sound moves on from the first, combining the musical skills and friends he has made since releasing Deerhunter’s critically adored Microcastle.

When Microcastle was released critics duly noted the shift from the extended song lengths on Cryptograms to the use of shorter songs with more pop-sensibilities. These sensibilities are carried on to Logos. There is less focus on highly layered, looping tracks carrying an innumerable amount of differing sounds on them to the use of bouncing acoustic guitar layered in reverb. It is more simplistic, but not boring.

This album also contains two guest spots. The first is Noah Lennox aka. Panda Bear on ‘Walkabout’, and this track combines the best of what each party is good at, creating a song that loops and bounces, riding on a sparkling keyboard tune. It is a magnificent pop tune, and is undoubtedly one of the best tracks Cox has released as Atlas Sound. The second guest spot is the eight-and-a-half-minute long track, ironically titled ‘Quick Canal’, starring Lætitia Sadier of Stereolab. It is another high point of the album, more laid back and dreamlike than ‘Walkabout’, it grows with with sifting organ-like sounds before introducing a drumbeat that propels us through the song. Sadier’s vocals are perfectly layered and echoed to create the sound of a seraph that slowly gets lost in a foggy pillow of shoegazing by the song’s finish. It never feels too long or melodramatically epic at its length; it is perfectly ambient.

A lot of the songs on this album seem to be the stopgap between the two aforementioned high points, that feature Cox’s trademark blend of fog and reverb. ‘The Light That Failed"’ sets the album of perfectly with its glitchy mix of various sounds and loops, reminiscent of Let the Bind… . In the background there is the sound of water dripping and flowing, that becomes hypnotic and rhythmic behind Cox’s mantra of “the light that failed… We would never, we would never….”. Songs such as ‘An Orchid’ show hints of Deerhunter, with their looping, fuzzy acoustic guitar. ‘Sheila’ is another highlight. It is another pop-tune that Cox has become oh-so good at creating, that masks behind its carefree rolling a profound (if already found) personal message to a lover. “And when we die we’ll bury ourselves. ‘Cause no-one wants to die alone.”
So while the areas between the instant standout tracks meld together in their blend of reverb and, with Cox’s vocals serving as just another texture that adds to the instrumentals, rather than controlling them, become largely ambient and forgetful, is that not the point? They are misty and dreamlike, as ambience should be, and do we not forget most of our dreams even after becoming so totally absorbed in them?

Standouts: The Light That Failed, Walkabout, Sheila, Quick Canal

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