By: Tony Wilson
On Friday, the Albright Knox is hosting its annual Rockin’ at the Knox concert. This one-day event brings in small list of musical talent that utilize a wide array of compositional specialties to form a diverse and engaging night of entertainment.
For those readers out there who may be wary of the opening act sometimes being substantially underwhelming, rest assured that the organizers of Rockin’ at the Knox have bucked this trend with the inclusion of Atlas Sound.
Atlas Sound is the pseudonym for the solo work of psych rock extraordinaire Bradford Cox, the notable lead man of the equally genre blurring group, Deerhunter. Why does a guy whose name might not be widely recognizable by the average music listener need a second band and an alias? Well, because what Cox may lack in mainstream popularity he makes up in musical proliferation. Since the release of Deerhunter’s second LP Cryptograms in 2007, Cox has gone on to release 4 more LP’s and 1 EP between the two bands. That my friends, is a lot of experimentation. So what exactly is Cox experimenting with? The easy answer is– everything.
Perhaps that is the reason for the rapidly growing discography is that Cox is not afraid to try working with any type of sounds he can harness. His work has been tagged with so many adjectives it would only confuse to go through the list. My best explanation may be to recall my experience at last September’s ATP festival in Monticello, NY. Atlas Sound was slated to play, and all expectations were on Cox to wow the crowd with his electronic and ambient noise prowess. Not to mention the internet hype machine abuzz over his then soon-to-be-released second LP, which features an electronic dance collaboration with Animal Collective’s Panda Bear that had been burning up indie radio stations all summer long.
Instead, Cox walked onto stage, took a seat on a small folding chair, and with no more than an acoustic guitar and harmonica, treated the crowd to a fiercely intimate acoustic set. The first Atlas Sound album Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel centered on the aforementioned ambient layers of sound, and featured introspective personal lyrics. Harnessing the essence of a solo piece of work, the album was written within hours, and the lyrics were created on the spot.
For his second effort Cox veered in a more mainstream direction. Still invoking haunted imagery and fuzzy atmospheric layers, the music on Logos is still grounded in pop sensibilities with honey sweet rhythms and hooks that listeners just can’t shake.
What sound will Atlas bring on Friday? The only way to find out is to make sure you get there early enough to catch his set.
Check out a few of his tunes below as a primer:
The popular Shelia
Walkabout feat. Noah Lennox (Panda Bear)
The askew: Recent Bedroom the
The experimental: Let the Blind Lead those who can see but cannot feel
Tony Wilson is a freelance music journalist. When asked about his experience he says “I’m just a guy who likes music”. Follow his musings at xsonicanarchyx.blogspot.com or email him at email@example.com.