Let The Blind Lead Those Who Cannot See But Cannot Feel
As the main singer/songwriter for Atlanta experimentalists Deerhunter, Bradford Cox has already carved his name in rock and roll's guidebook of mavericks and geniuses in waiting. Last year's excellent 'Fluorescent Grey EP' initially placing Cox and his band on the map, paving the way for the 'Cryptograms' long player that followed in hot pursuit like a pack of beagles on the trail of a lonesome fox.
Of course, anyone expecting that to be Cox's sole dalliance musically would be massively underestimating the vision and ambition of a man who clearly has no defined boundaries or barriers as far as constructing a piece, or collection of musical works together is concerned. Not content with simply regurgitating the tried and tested method of verse-chorus-verse, or even that age-old creation known as song, Cox in his latest guise as Atlas Sound really wants to take you some place else entirely.
Initially released in North America three months ago via the Kranky label (head honcho Brian Foote assists on production duties here), 'Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel' has been causing a stir in the underground ever since, and it was only a matter of time before one of the bigger independent distributors - in this case 4AD - gave it the widespread release its ambition and stark attention to detail unwittingly deserved.
Although there are clear mirrors of an adolescent infatuation with the original shoegaze scene and 'Evol'-period Sonic Youth here, don't let that put you off or indeed make any rash categorisations as far as Atlas Sound is concerned. Essentially a solo project although Cox has roped in one or two friends such as White Rainbow's Adam Forker, 'Let The Blind Lead Those.' is at times a harrowing and bleak journey through the thoughts, both past and present, of a clearly affected and occasionally disturbed individual.
From the opening infant-read narrative 'Ghost Story' through the psychedelic Animal Collective vibe of 'Quarantined' and beyond, Cox always manages to write straight from the heart, which makes his thoughts all the more compelling. The fact that he chooses to shroud most of them in a crushing veneer of white noise and delayed effects makes this record occasionally feel like the score to a disengaged horror movie. 'Cold As Ice' and 'Scraping Past' both mix similar jazz-tinged fusions as Battles with an alluring sense of gloom that most artists wouldn't even attempt, let alone expect to get away with.
Likewise, the frugal monotone instrumental that is 'Ready, Set, Glow' coupled with 'Winter Vacation' and its eerie sense of displacement could give anyone nightmares, and yet by the same token have an enthralling complexity about them that makes either impossible to dismiss. One thing that is for sure about 'Let The Blind Lead Those.' is that you won't ever hear anything like this on the radio, although the penultimate feedback-driven swirl of 'Ativan' comes closest to a conventional pop song, even if it is in the most skewered, Mary Chain-esque manner.
The biggest compliment, however, is reserved for last, in that Bradford Cox has truly elevated himself to another level here, so much that after hearing 'Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel', people won't be asking about when the new Deerhunter record's due but rather when the next Atlas Sound one is instead.