[sic] Magazine

Atlas Sound – Parallax

You have a choice. Do you want to spend the totality of your life savings on some behemoth’s uber-super-deluxe box set comprising 15 remastered discs, 7 DVDs, a unreadable booklet with photos by someone with no concept of the term ‘focus’, and a special disc of toilet recordings capturing various ‘movements’?

Or, alternatively, those of you wise enough to save your money might want to edge your bets and head over to Atlas Sound , ‘the solo project’ of the terrific Bradford Cox – a true renaissance man and the most interesting new American artist this side of Sufjan Stevens .

His main group, Deerhunter , recorded the undeniable beauty of 2010’s Halycon Digest and it was easily one of the best of last year. In addition, many music fans remain awe struck by the earlier Microcastle/Weird Era Cont the second disk of which Cox recorded to counter an internet leak of the first. He’s quite talented this lad!

This new album by Cox largely answers the accusation levelled at him in relation to consistency, since he does have an ability to produce outstanding highlights but combines them with some songs that are completely outshined as a result.

On Parallax , his third album with the Atlas Sound moniker, he has produced one of his finest albums to date and, in doing so, stripped back production to such an extent as to prove that less is indeed more. The bubbling gentle piano of ‘Te Amo’ is an excellent example of this and it does echo some of the euphoric musical lines employed with such skill by the Guillemots on ‘Through The Window Pane’. This icy beauty is taken to its logical conclusion on ‘Terra Incognito’ by a slightly Radiohead feel and a languid vocal, which is completely entrancing over the course of a slowly weaving six minutes.

Unusually for Cox, acoustic guitars figure in large parts of Parallax , which gives the five minute plus ‘Flagstaff’ a wintery feel and a sad edge particularly with the extended fade-out of a gentle synth, which slowly draws the song to its conclusion.

The moody, pulsing drums of ‘Amplifiers’ are probably nearer to Cox’s work in Deerhunter than any other song on the album and he colourfully describes it as a ‘dream of Steve Reich and the Beach Boys in vertical striped shirts pressing phasers on Lunar Canyon’.

Despite this, probably the most surprising song here is ‘Mona Lisa’, a straightforward acoustic song that would happily fit on a Wilco album and is none the worse for it. The harder, but excellent ‘Praying Man’ which follows almost echoes Marc Bolan , but it is the sheer beauty of ‘Modern Aquatic Nightsongs’ that will probably trouble the repeat button most for purchasers of this album.

Bradford Cox could and has been criticised for recording too much since his output is prodigious. But when he matches quantity with quality should we be at all concerned? Parallax shows an artist who is both a great musical innovator but whose pop sensibilities remain firmly intact. His albums are always an intriguing prospect and the musician from Atlanta, Georgia has just delivered a very early and probably indispensible Christmas present.

[sic] review: Atlas Sound – Logos