KEXP @ CMJ 2011, Day 3: Atlas Sound

photos by Brittney Bush Bollay

Atlas Sound is the solo project of Deerhunter front man Bradford Cox, a moniker he’s used since childhood to represent his recorded output. Back then, Cox used a cassette player with two tape decks to layer guitar, drums, and vocals to prolific effect: he once said that he believes that he has over five hundred such recordings in storage. The modern incarnation of Atlas Sound was born of Cox’s desire to expand his sonic palette without interfering with Deerhunter’s setup as a five-piece rock outfit. Since 2008, Atlas Sound has released seven albums, four of which were released over the span of one week as part of Cox’s Bedroom Databank series. Cox has been commended for his lyricism, which is completely stream-of-consciousness with nothing written in advance. This contributes heavily to the lo-fi, homegrown aesthetic of Atlas Sound’s music. It’s bedroom rock with a twist.

Dressed in a set of old-school, button-down pajamas, moccasins, and a brown corduroy blazer, Bradford Cox stood tuning his guitar and calibrating his looper and effects board in front of easily the largest crowd to grace the Ace Hotel’s lobby all week. He would periodically bend down to take a sip of a Pacifico he had been nursing, and with everyone in the hotel hanging on his every word and movement, he would discuss the sound, his setup, when he was supposed to go on, and anything else that he happened to think of, all to the delight of everyone in attendance. He was ready to go ten minutes early only to leave the stage, returning at 4:30 pm to shed his blazer and begin the final set of KEXP’s broadcasts from the Ace Hotel, presented by Toyota Free Yr Radio. After debuting his new song, “Praying Man,” Cox played a beautiful, mesmerizing set of dreamlike pop, heavily utilizing his effects board and looping equipment in the process. He finished the set up with “Terra Incognito” and “Flagstaff,” both tracks off his new album Parallax, because, as Cox told the audience, he recorded them in room 1214 of the Ace Hotel, where he is a frequent guest.

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