Atlas Sound, Logos - Music Review

Posted on 09. Dec, 2009 by in Music

Ask any Robert Pollard or Ryan Adams fan and they’ll tell you the same: Following the type of artist who tends to draw the label “prolific” can be a maddening affair fraught with disappointment and frustration. Digging through mounds of tossed-off experiments and weirdo faux-side projects until you find the (hopefully) worthwhile gem is, quite simply, part of the game. Thus far though, Deerhunter frontman and Atlas Sound auteur Bradford Cox has managed to attract the description and live to tell the tale. In fact, his work has increasingly grown into terms normally relegated to regions miles away from “prolific” – consistently engaging, carefully edited, tastefully restrained.

The recent run of Deerhunter efforts, from 2008’s Microcastle through the just-released Rainwater Cassette Exchange EP, even shows Cox on a steady artistic incline, topping himself with each respective release. Logos, the newest Atlas Sound long-player, is no exception to the trend. Building on similar elements to 2008’s Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel – spacious, splashy guitars, neurotic electronic loops, and that slightly anxious bedtime whisper –  Cox tightens some key screws to tell a more deeply faceted story with deft subtlety.

Perhaps the only major issue with Let the Blind was Cox’s tendency to languish atop the sonic forestry, rather than move through it. While the arrangements were beautiful and moody, the loose song structures, plodding rhythms and repetitive melodies sometimes left your “skip-forward finger” feeling mighty itchy. Not so, this time around. Besides cutting down to just 11 tracks, what really keeps things moving here – even on the nearly nine-minute “Quick Canal”, which features a tasty, ethereal vocal interplay with Cox by Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier – is the attention paid not only to which sonic elements are used – though plenty is paid there – but also to exactly when they are introduced.

Rather than playing as aural scenery, Cox’s daubs of reverb-soaked feedback and electronic bell-tones, tick-tocks, and whooshery serve as a surrogate to dramatic song structure, slyly washing in and out, and gently tugging the listener on to the next leg of the track.

Rhythmically, too, Logos explores new ground in both directions, from “Quick Canal’s” Krautrock-via-kitchen-utensils drive, to the steady, lilting folk waltz of “My Halo” and “An Orchid”.  The record’s lyrical content lies buried under reception-hall echo and broken-speaker fuzz, but the percussive layers that alternate from mechanical to loosely playful carry its story of
captivity, anxiety, and buoyancy to places words simply won’t go.

Good For:
The Underwater Bar in Heaven, extreme yoga, floating, Wes Anderson’s funeral.

Bad For: Hospitals, Fraternity Reunions.

– Anthony Aquilino

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One Response to “Atlas Sound, Logos - Music Review”

  1. ToddWilliamson

    17. Dec, 2009

    [youtube C79Q7MV4Fgo youtube]

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