The overriding flavour of the album is of a creator set free.
Matthew Horton 2009-10-16
Bradford Cox is clearly not busy enough in his day job. The Deerhunter singer’s Atlas Sound solo project has now produced two albums and half a dozen EPs of pop psychedelia in less than two years, while Deerhunter themselves managed to release a pair of albums in 2008. The man has creativity to burn.
That much is obvious from Logos, Atlas Sound’s sturdy second set, which fires off melodies from all angles, each track dripping with invention. It’s not a straightforward listen, usually relying on atmosphere and layered sonics rather than recognisable structure, but it’s still pop – weird pop.
The first Atlas Sound album, Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel, was heavy on the noodly sketches. A pleasant, watery listen, it created moods without getting its hands dirty with anything so infra dig as a conventional song, and that suited Cox’s experimental urges. But Logos shows progress; a desire to drop the abstracts for a bit and engage with the listener.
Most glaringly, there are a couple of guest spots. Cox recently toured Europe with American pop explorers Animal Collective, and struck up a rapport with their Noah Lennox, aka ambient harmonist Panda Bear. Their collaboration Walkabout appears here, chugging prettily along, with Lennox sounding as usual like Brian Wilson singing from the bottom of the Mariana Trench. It’s lovely stuff.
The other surprise visitor is Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, Cox’s teen idol, who trills gamely through the pulsating Quick Canal, an eight-minute epic of reverb coming up against soft synths. It feels like Saint Etienne going krautrock, and it works.
Away from the star turns, An Orchid comes on like a downcast outtake from Love’s Forever Changes, with chiming guitars and an air of the surreal. It’s matched by the disarming Attic Lights, which is similarly psychedelic with its double-tracked violin veering around a tune.
There’s a taste of Deerhunter in the distorted pop of Kid Klimax and scuzzed-up country beats of the title track, but the overriding flavour of the album is of a creator set free. Cox says it’s near enough a one-take record, which is hard to square with some of these intricate arrangements, but you can believe him because it sounds so fresh.