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I know that I talk ad nauseum about the band Deerhunter, and I know that my friends are also quite aware that I talk incessantly about the band Deerhunter when the topic of music comes up. I have written a thing or two about Deerhunter, I have listened to Deerhunter records, Deerhunter, Deerhunter, Deerhunter.
So, how happy am I that they are playing the free JellyNYC show tomorrow afternoon at the East River Terminal Park in trendy Williamsburg, Brooklyn? That is a rhetorical question the answer to which is meant to be very obvious, but you are free to conjecture in the comments form. A free Deerhunter show is free Soma. Ford is in his flivver, as far as I am concerned.
I gushed about the band here in the recent past to inaugurate the release of the Rainwater Cassette Exchange, and I mean everything I say about the grand happy circumstance of having such a committedly new band hard at work providing the world new vistas to think on.
Rainwater Cassette Exchange is excellent, but the record I cannot stop playing to this day, that will not be removed from my iPod, is the full-length preceding it- Microcastle/Weird Era Continued. There is no comparison between the production value of the the new EP, which shares a muddy chromosome with the recently released Atlas Sound single, and last year’s double LP. What I am hearing when I listen to the increasingly degraded sound quality of each consecutive recording (Rainwater to Atlas Sound) is a band that is trying to play to a preconceived idea of what they think they should be doing instead of just doing those things that define their genius.
Atlas Sound is one of Deerhunter hetman Bradford Cox’s side projects. The new Atlas Sound single, “Walkabout” (you can hear it at Pitchfork), sounds a lot like something off of The Russian Futurists‘ The Method of Modern Love from 2001. Below is The Russian Futurists “The Science of the Seasons” from that record.
The Atlas Sound aesthetic has always been something striving toward a lo-fi prettiness, and that is part of the problem. Lo-fi is an affect. Bradford Cox and Deerhunter find their strength precisely in their ability to synthesize their influences into surprising configurations- They please and surprise in those quiet moments when the plink of a piano reminds you so strongly of a Neu! song you are shocked that the mix of the vocals or the tempo of the guitars take you in an entirely new direction, not when they are giving a ready-made notion a 1-dimensional try. Deerhunter has a works cited in the appendix of their catalog longer than the King James Bible, but, for the necessity of all that musical knowledge in creating their sound, it is only incidental to how they synthesize it into a new whole.
The new Atlas Sound single sounds lazy by contrast, almost as though it is more dependent on out-of-the-box Acid loops than its genre forebears from the beginning of the decade, as though striving toward a sound that they think they need to achieve is standing in the way of letting them use their tools to create the sound they want to play.
As an oblique strategy this can definitely unlock new potential for a band, but it shouldn’t take top billing on the Marquee of their creative output.
This concludes my critical moment. Now back to leaping with anticipation for tomorrow’s show, crossing my fingers in hopes that the rain holds off at least until they’ve finished playing, however appropriate playing a show in support of an EP with rainwater in the title during a shower might be on a neat symbolic level.