“This is what you call experimental music

Atlas Sound – February 3rd – Bell House

I’ve seen Deerhunter perform a few times now, so I thought I knew what to expect from Bradford Cox’s other project, Atlas Sound. But from the time I bought my ticket and heard Cox soundchecking in the room next door, I knew I was in for a bit of a surprise – in a good way.

Upon entering the room later that night, one of the first things I noticed was that Cox was wearing a toboggan – kind of as if he had simply stepped out of nearly every picture I’ve seen him in.

The music made under the Atlas Sound banner quickly proved to be far more than just a watered down Deerhunter show. It was slower, more melodic, dreamier, and somehow – both tidier and less structured.  Sure, there is still a bit of the distortion and haze, but Cox’s voice came through loud and clear… and surprisingly intelligible.

As far as I can tell, a show starring Bradford Cox is always a good one – even when there are glaring technical issues like there were at the Bell House. Cox hadn’t even gotten through a single song when the looper messed up and the drum beat cut out. In between the songs, he disappeared from sight as he started rooting around, trying to fix the problem. Man. I had this all worked out. This was going to be the second mind-blowing song, he sheepishly confessed. Now pretend that never happened.

The sounds were mesmerizing and cerebral. Being that I’m not too familiar with the catalogue of Atlas Sound, I was never sure when they would end – each one a swirling snowstorm unto itself. They were both dreamy and decisive. Though they are hardly comprable, the Atlas Sound show was probably the closest thing I’ve had to a Phil Elverum  experience in quite a while. (1)

I know it’s probably not what you expected, Cox admitted. Well no, maybe not, but I was absolutely taken by the performance. Cox, too, seemed to be pretty enthused about playing. I love playing in New York. Every time I play here, it’s like the first time. I hope the songs weren’t too dark. It’s a magic city! And with that, he threw his long arms up in the air in a charmingly child-like wave, and walked off stage.


(1) The Microphones / Mount Eerie is my absolute favorite artist. One particular show in Greenpoint in the fall of 2008 when I finally got around to seeing Phil left me with such feelings of camaraderie and euphoria that I almost wanted to die so I wouldn’t ever have to come back down.

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