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Atlas Sound proves itself a titan in electronic shoegaze

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Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox, who released his new solo project, Atlas Sound, is ambitious.

Having released 12 albums in less than a decade with Deerhunter, Cox will be bearing an even greater burden with Atlas.  

The drive and ambition of Cox is ever-present in his new solo release, “Parallax,” which provides listeners with a well-crafted series of eclectic tunes.

“The Shakes” blends perfectly with introduction, and furthermore, reflects Cox’s consistency. Cox and his projects always had a shoegaze, distancing expression.

“The Shakes” does just that, in a similar way as Deerhunter’s track from Microcastle “Agoraphobia” does. “Parallax’s” second track, “Amplifiers,” continues a distancing quality with its impeccable transition and hushing quality with Cox’s quiet vocals and equally calming timbre. “Te Amo” does much the same.

There’s definitely an element of focused songwriting in certain respects on the album as well, evidenced by “Parallax’s” first single and title track. It’s sing-songy over top a swinging acoustic guitar. Cox’s echoing chorus is surrounded by beeps and robot noises of the like, but is nonetheless affecting while he sings about pain. “Mona Lisa” is much to the same affect, if not stronger.

“Modern Aquatic Nightsongs” puts a listener in a state of loss and mystery, but not discontent. The song is best described as “aquatic” — it provides the same escape and muted sensibility as sticking one’s head in water.

“Praying Man” follows up a more accessible sound with one that is more Cox traditional again. Cox’s references to “prayer” and may remind listeners of Halcyon Digest’s, “Helicopter.” Cox then continues to cover musical bases with the successful ambiance of “Doldrums.”

Cox succeeds in consistency and balance throughout the final tracks on this record as he did in the bulk of it. While he maintains a sense of distance and shoegaze (as heard in the album’s longest tracks toward the end, “Terra Incognita” and “Flagstaff”) there are clear moments of well crafted songwriting, such as in “My Angel is Broken” and “Lightworks.”

Cox has a handle on his form with Atlas Sound, and could easily at some point have the same prestige as Lou Reed or Iggy Pop.

Grade: A

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