Thu Apr 26 2007
Photograph: Bryan Meltz
The annals of Atlanta’s musical history contain little precedent for Deerhunter’s highly unusual fusions of warped melodic rock and sound collages, the organic and the electronic. Including nearby Athens brings the Elephant 6 posse into the equation, but Deerhunter’s sound, which hints broadly at Sonic Youth and Flying Saucer Attack, is stranger and more malevolent.
The band’s Cryptograms (Kranky), released in January, mixes atmospheric instrumentals with bass-heavy, incongruously melodic songs, most of which are grouped toward the end of the disc. But even the most-approachable material (“Spring Hall Convert,” “Strange Lights”) is twisted, whether by frontman Bradford Cox’s treated vocals, a blurry sound mix or the countless odd noises that adorn virtually every track on the album. Deerhunter’s newer Fluorescent Grey EP—released a few months after the album but recorded nearly a year later—finds the band more confident and focused and is far closer to its live sound.
Deerhunter’s musical ambition can make its live sets, as the band itself says, “polarizing.” But the group has learned to keep things relatively straightforward, and as a live video posted on Pitchfork demonstrates, its gigs can be downright exhilarating. Somehow, the unintelligible vocals of the strikingly thin Cox (he suffers from Marfan syndrome) combine with the band’s driving roar to create some of the most tuneful chaos you’ll hear anywhere. — Jem Aswad