Monday, 19 October 2009

REVIEW: Atlas Sound - Logos

Atlas Sound - Logos
Release Date: 19/10/09
Label: 4AD

There's been a lot written about file sharing of late, much of which has been off the back of comments made by Lilly Allen, Queen of The Internet. So, what happens when a band/artist leaks an album themselves, albeit accidentally, when it's unfinished? This is the predicament that Bradford Cox, mastermind behind Deerhunter and Atlas Sound, found himself in last year when he managed to inadvertently leak an unfinished, unmastered version of 
Logos to the world via his own Mediafire account. When you distribute as much free material as Cox does you've got to be a little more careful. After this Cox was understandably pissed off (at himself you'd guess). After a period of both um-ing and also ah-ing he decided to go ahead and finish the album after all. And here it is: Atlas Sounds' Logos.

When it comes to the world of Bradford Cox, personally I'm a relative newcomer. On hearing Deerhunter's Microcastle last year I was all over anything I could get my hand on, which included Atlas Sounds' first proper LP 
Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel. Now, just a year later I've got Logos to get excited about. Well, have I?

The album opens with 
The Light That Failed, a repetition of lazily played acoustic played over a scattering of watery squelches, single-hit tambourine with Albert Hall reverb, and some ethereal vocals lost deep in the mix. Every now and again a intelligible lyrics slips through: "I will never." Following this, and seemingly starting about three minutes into what was recorded, is An Orchid. More unintelligible lyrics but this time the band raises its head a little higher; an acoustic chord sequence is afforded a little strumming action; I'm sure if I listen hard enough there's an actual drummer in there. A shimmering guitar line enters the mix, brilliantly offsetting the mantra-like timbre of the track proper. Oh, hang on, it's finished. Not the guitar line, the song. But it was just getting interesting! And it's this opening salvo that serves to sum up Logos for me. I feel as if I've picked up a copy of Bradford Cox's sketch book; a collection of unfinished ideas which can't yet be called songs.

The album launches in earnest on its third offering, the much-anticipated collaboration with Animal Collective's Noah Lennox. It's here that the album throws up its first 'proper song' and, unfortunately for Cox, it sounds like Lennox's influence here is stronger than his; this could easily be 
Merriweather Post Pavilion out-take: the familiar sound of Panda Bear's vocals over an organic-yet-electronic soup of beats and backing. It's easily the album's standout track. Well, it does have another track which rises to the top amongst the litter of sketches and ideas: another collaboration. Quick Canal (featuring Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab) is an eight minute majesty of beats, wall of sound reverb, and washed out in the mix vocals. For fear of sounding like my Dad, it's a laid-back dance groove (man). Obviously Bradford Cox's influence is strong on both of these tracks (even if it's not always in your face) and it goes to show what it achievable if he's working to satisfy someone other than himself.

To dismiss the whole record as a collection of sketches, bar the two collaborations, may be doing it a slight dis-service. 
Attic Lights is a lo-fi acoustic number with well placed, haunting strings. Sheila starts as a simple three-chord dirgey repetition but soon there's a step-change to lift the whole thing and keep the listener on their toes. However, even with these glimmers there's still, for me at least, more rough than smooth.

I'm sure that this album will get glowing reviews from most reviews that put fingers to keys. But, I have to ask, is that because it's expected? I wanted to like this record -- and I really tried. However, just because someone's reputation precedes, just because you think you should like something, all work needs to be judged on its own merit. For Bradford Cox's disciples 
Logos will no doubt serve as a record of the inner workings of his mind; for everyone else its no more than a sketch book of potential, and maybe a hint of what lies in wait.
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Listen to
Atlas Sound - Logos on Spotify and let us know what you think.


  1. Reckon it was better than the first Atlas Sound LP but a good bit behind Deerhunter and what you'd quite rightly expect. Not bad, just very little to write home ,or indeed anywhere, about. One wonders if it'd have been more polished if it hadn't been leaked early on.