We often see a trend among great musicians and bands. One of the members—usually the lead vocalist—is the mastermind behind most of what the band does. That particular band member will almost always eventually either split off and go his own direction or begin a solo project and also stay with his band.
Bradford James Cox, solo artist Atlas Sound, lead singer of the Athens band Deerhunter, recently released his first solo album, Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel.
Atlas Sound also has two EPs called Cole Alexander/Bradford Cox Split, released in 2006 under the label Rob’s House Records, and Atlas Sound/Mexellent Split, released only on vinyl under the label HOSS Records in 2007.
Cox started out in 1994 recording a song on a karaoke machine in sixth grade. The manufacturer of the machine that he used is Atlas Sound, which is where he gets his name.
Atlas Sound is currently signed to the indie label Kranky, which is also the label for his band Deerhunter.
The Atlas Sound album, which was released on Feb. 19, 2008, is ambient and incredibly emotional. It is considered to be part of the genre called “shoegazing,” which emerged in the United Kingdom in the ’80s. Shoegazing got its name from performers showing very little movement during shows and staring at their shoes most of the time they were on stage.
The first track on the album is called “A Ghost Story”—it is a young boy simply reading a ghost story over the sound of soft music in the background. It is a very moving song, even though there isn’t much going on.
All tracks have a lot to offer emotionally, and the album as a whole is incredibly relaxing and enjoyable to listen to.
Despite the positive aspects, the songs do tend to run together a bit after listening for a while.
While I do receive immense satisfaction from listening to the album, I can say with confidence that it’s not for everyone. You can feel how personal an album it is to Cox. This also means there isn’t much fluctuation or excitement among the different tracks.
However, for someone who listens to and enjoys ambient music quite regularly, it will be easy to pick out the differences. It will be even easier to respect him—even if you don’t often listen to this type of music, his emotional state is always apparent to the listener.
The album was recorded using Ableton Live, a software program based heavily on being an instrument for performance. Most of the musical effects on the album were created from effects that were already programmed into the software. Needless to say, that only allows for so many different things you can do, but Cox pulled off the task quite well.
Atlas Sound’s debut album is certainly worth listening to if you are into the whole ambient, calm music thing. Even if that’s not your cup of tea, listening to Atlas Sound won’t leave you feeling empty. There is always something to learn from someone who has a story to tell, especially when that someone is doing what he loves to do.