Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel
"The dream of one summer, this last summer I had. It's almost as if I had one continuous dream and the product of achieving it is the album you have here." And so writes Bradford Cox, the creator behind Deerhunter and this, his earliest incarnation and solo pursuit, Atlas Sound. Let The Blind... is the debut album under this name and "one continuous dream" would be an accurate way to describe it. With themes of nostalgia and childhood infiltrating every pore of this sound much of its conception can be attributed to one whole summer where, as a 16 year old, Cox lay immobilized in a children's hospital undergoing surgery on his back and chest. This lost summer, spent bedridden and gazing longingly at the world, echoes the bleached out warmth of this sound and the endless dream-like imagery that loom in and out of focus throughout the record.
Let The Blind... is the vehicle by which Cox can express the ideas he feels unable to in Deerhunter. It's a one man bedroom recording of great depth and beauty that spends much of its time swimming in hazy pools of warmth while occasionally rising to minimal peaks of focus before receding back again. It employs similar washes of sound as Deerhunter's 2007 Cryptograms but assumes the roll of its more reserved cousin, lonely and sedated it spends its time indoors dreaming and anticipating.
A muffled child's voice clumsily narrates a ghost story in the opening few moments only to be overcome by a slow approaching wave of sampled glockenspiel that blissfully fades to the gentle rhythms and distant vocals of Recent Bedroom. Cox uses repetition to convey this dreamlike state with looping vocal formations drifting in and out of the listeners consciousness like the various stages of sleep. As the distant muffle of Recent Bedroom gives way to the crisp and clear pitter-patter of River Card you can feel yourself rising from slumber with ease and gentleness. Cold As Ice sees you fall back into the abyss only to be summoned back with angelic grandeur by the chiming synths of Small Horror. From the clipped drum roll of River Card to the sunken 4/4 techno beat of Winter Vacation, Cox smothers every minute of this record in rich effects conjured from homemade electronica.
Compared to his work with Deerhunter this is very much the sound of an individual. Sonically and thematically Let The Blind... describes the space inhabited by this one individual, be it the swirling pastoral landscape of his mind or the confines of a hospital bed. This is a very personal piece of work which manages to shimmer with warmth and shiver with icy melancholy. On Quarantined he sings "quarantined and kept so far away from friends," so his only option is to escape into this dream while he lies there "waiting to be changed."
As the closing fuzz of the final title track echoes opener A Ghost Story, you really have to emerge from this record to rejoin the real world. It's effects are subtle and it's not until it fades away that the spell is revealed and you realise how deep you have been taken. This is an abstract musical journey and seems to flow with a disjointed perfection that makes it work best as a unified whole rather than a collection of songs. It's headphone music to really disappear to and like most of Cox's work it's a fiercely original sound that knows exactly where its going and will take as long as it wants to get there. Your only choice is whether you've got what it takes to tag along.
22nd Apr 2008 - Tumblr3.5
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