Fading Frontier, the new studio album by Deerhunter, is set for release in October 2015 on 4AD. The record was made by founding members Bradford Cox, Lockett Pundt, Moses Archuleta, and bassist Josh McKay. Written in their hometown of Atlanta, GA, production duties were shared by the band and Ben H. Allen III, continuing a collaboration that began with 2010’s Halcyon Digest.
Following the death-rattle garage catharsis of Monomania, the group have shifted towards something strikingly balanced, focused on melody and texture. The songs are brighter; if not in content, then in the album’s production. Starkness plays against clutter in what is the band’s most complex yet accessible work to date.
Cox and Pundt share lead vocal duties (a first for the band) on the enthralling ‘Breaker’, while the darker ‘Take Care’ (featuring Broadcast’s James Cargill on synthesizers and tape manipulation) and ‘Leather and Wood’ – a strange hybrid of J.G. Ballard’s dystopian grey-skied science fiction, and the most spartan Motown downer imaginable – paint a varied spectral landscape.
Elsewhere, the likes of ‘Snakeskin’ showcase a sinister flirtation with minimalist funk, whilst Pundt makes a typically masterful statement with the synth-diffused ‘Ad Astra’, which culminates in one of the album’s most transcendent moments. Fading Frontier shows that a decade in, Deerhunter has lost none of its intensity. As the group matures, so they have grown into the most consistent purveyors of art-rock of their generation.
Atlas Sound is the solo moniker of Deerhunter frontman/provocateur Bradford Cox, so named since 1994, when a sixth-grade Bradford made recordings on a karaoke cassette machine bearing the words ‘Atlas Sound’. Though it was Cox’s earliest musical incarnation, it wasn’t until 2008 that the first Atlas Sound album emerged, Let The Blind Lead Those Who See But Cannot Feel.
The genesis of the record can be traced back to those sixth-grade musical experiments; a time when he discovered through reading a Beck interview that his family’s disused karaoke machine could be used as a rudimentary multi-tracking device. As Cox’s tirelessly updated blog attests, with its caverns of freely available covers, demos and mixtapes, such recording processes are central to his music, colouring the intimate feel of Atlas Sound in a manner more apparent than when writing under the guise of Deerhunter.
If its predecessor was a record of fragile beauty and acute experimentalism that spoke of its bedroom genesis, the second Atlas Sound album, Logos, arrived in 2009 with a far more rooted pop sensibility. Featuring collaborations with Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox and Laetitia Sadler of Stereolab, the album expanded on the often-insular tendencies of the first Atlas Sound record, this time outward gazing and almost sunshine loving in its ebullience. Moving away from piercing introspection and towards a grand pop plateau, Cox managed to translate his music into a more universally engaging form while retaining the intimate charms of the project.
Citing the “ideas that I can’t make work with a five piece rock band” as the basis of his solo material, Cox’s work as Atlas Sound represents a feral and prolific musical voice. With its scorched beauty, stream of consciousness, and wonderfully cohesive pop narrative, Atlas Sound is another outlet for Cox’s relentless creativity, distinctly remaining the product of just one man’s vision.
Deerhunter + Atlas Sound
Wednesday, 18 November 2015 | 19:00 CET
Heimathafen | Karl-Marx-Straße 141 | 12043 Berlin/Neukölln