Atlas Sound – Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel (UK import)
Atlas Sound may be Bradford Cox‘s solo project, but it’s clear after just one listen that there’s not much that separates Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel from Cox‘s main concentration, Deerhunter. The same filtered and treated guitars, tapes, and percussion make and wind their way around in eerie yet lush arrangements as Cox sings repeated phrases that eventually fade out into hushed chords and murmurings. The difference, however — and it is a difference that means a lot — is that Cox is much more focused here, and though the album certainly fits easily and well into post-rock, he’s able to better control the instrumental meandering that at times would drag down Cryptograms. Instead of acting as the default sound, it represents a conscious decision, a gentle contrast that complements and strengthens the whole, and the attention that he allows his voice (the timbre of which can, as in the warm, Daedelus-esque “Cold as Ice” or the gentle “Winter Vacation,” sound downright Björk-ish) allows the more instrumentally focused pieces to acquire greater meaning. The vocals, too, when they exist, are given more priority in the mix, an emphasis that shows what a compelling singer he actually is. “Quarantined,” for example, has only two lyrical lines (“Quarantined and kept so far away from my friends/I’m waiting to be changed”), but the subtle emotion that can be heard in Cox‘s enunciation makes it one of the best and most powerful tracks on the entire album. The album’s not faultless: as with Deerhunter, Cox has the tendency to try too hard to be profound (take the title — or the title track — for example), wanting so badly to say something important that he sounds trite and forced, and untrustworthy, but when he’s able to forget about conveying some kind of meaning and instead focuses on the actual music, his message — one of pain and love and feeling lost, of trying desperately to understand — is undeniable.
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