Atlas Sound's bummer gift dime bag: Further thoughts


Oh, so you thought Gimme Noise was done filleting Atlas Sound's for-free-on-the-Internet Bedroom Databank series? You thought the notion of a follow-up to my lukewarm evaluation of the first two volumes was lost in a turkey-drunk fugue and familial-buzz haze? Wrong. In fact, Gimme Noise spent the past two long, long weeks in the Atlas Sound trenches with Bedroom Databanks Vol. 3 and Vol. 4 on repeat in an attempt to ferret out the essential mysteries or portents at the music's core. And ultimately, I emerged not with a declarative answer or statement or an inscribed stone tablet, but with a question: "Should we be seriously worried about Bradford Cox?"

[jump] You're probably thinking "What, you weren't worried about Bradford Cox?" Good point. Despondency, disease (literally so), depression, self-loathing, sloth, sexual vulture-ism, and the imagined violence that might emerge from the previous elements have always informed Deerhunter and Atlas Sound lyrics, but a big part of Cox fandom involves suspending one's belief that these are more cries for help than quasi-journalistic, idiosyncratic expressions of artistry.

Yet these latter two Bedroom Databank entries feel so washed out, so dazed, so spent, so fundamentally adrift in terms of form and composition that it seems valid to wonder whether we should all be sending Cox "Edible Arrangements" bouquets or rare Velvet Underground vinyl bootlegs or something. There's a desolation and bloodlessness to some of this material that's heartbreaking, as if the songwriter leaked the tracks against his own better judgment; it's like Bret Easton Ellis opting to publish the undergraduate-era, pre-Less Than Zero short stories he's long sworn will never see the light of day. When I say "drunk slide-guitar ramblings," be very afraid, unless that kind of thing appeals to you.

Gimme Noise's fingers are cautiously crossed; Gimme Noise is eternally hopeful that the follow-up to Logos will stun. In any event, this post is going to be a celebration of the best that Vol 3 and Vol 4 have to offer. Namely, those evolved-Eno tone wonders Cox so loves to write that mimic the experience of capturing fireflies on a warm summer evening and marveling at their intermittently intense cold-light pulsations, the awesome symphony of illumination a cadre of such pulsations produces, and the vicarious felicity it inevitably inspires.

Bedroom Databank, Vol. 3

02. "Yards of Silk"


Autumnal, hard-strummed chords spiced with fairy-dust effects and bells. This is an instrumental that wouldn't seem to lend itself to vocal accompaniment, but for some weird reason I think Cox could make it fly that way if he wanted to, maybe by making the piece slightly less maddeningly linear.

08. "Comet 8"

Loose-limbed, rambunctious strum with rattle-clatter drums and echo-fucked vocal misting. Call it "rayon soul."

09. "Drums & Pissing"

Remember those Microphones interludes where Phil Elverum would just let loose on his skins? If I'm not mistaken - and I may be - this is simply the "Comet 8" drum tracks bashing and bouncing along by their lonesome, revealing Cox as a fairly competent drummer, if not an especially proficient or commanding one. Still, this is an Atlas Sound first.

12. "Dream Color"

Creamy, curlicued drug coma pop about dreaming hallucinations, replete with bluesy, fulsome melodic figure and smudged, talk-sung vocal. Totally belongs on a proper Atlas Sound release.

14. "Epilogue"

An extended glimpse into the world's largest, fullest jar of fireflies - pissed fireflies.

Bedroom Databank, Vol. 4

01. "Farmland Fantasy"

A controlled experiment in conflicting moods: serrated electronics versus flurried ghost synthesizers versus a flock of cyborg sparrows. The winner? You.

04. "Talent Show"

Cox finally rocks the fuck out here, initially with broad, crunchy metal licks that resolve into butt-rock/garage-rock nirvana that's more Deerhunter than Atlas Sound, in all honesty, and I wouldn't be shocked if this surfaced on the follow-up to Halcyon Digest in some form. Watch for the song's various components to suddenly be at rhythmic odds with one another in the last minute or so, ala so much of Pavement's delicious Wowee Zowee.

05. "Wire Brush Stomp"

Total disembodied mutant dub that seamlessly folds in Atlas Sound's trademark seared-horizon noise drones. No fooling: I'd be good with a full album of this. Jah! Rastafarianism! (Insert "Ras Trent" joke here.)

07. "Moonlight on Verlaine"

A disorienting tone flood that's as tidal as it is avian, a thing of brief whirlpools and blink-and-miss 'em updrafts and general swirl. Not only will you believe that you can levitate, you will also believe that you can levitate an edge city. With your mind.