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Deerhunter Star Cox Goes Solo With Guitar Loops: N.Y.C. Music

December 30, 2011

Dec. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Fog covered the stage at the Bowery Ballroom on Dec. 18 as Bradford Cox, in flannel shirt and vest, stood at the lone microphone with guitar in hand and harmonica in neck mount.

Cox, who goes by the solo alias Atlas Sound when he isn’t fronting the band Deerhunter, started with the title track from his excellent third album, “Parallax.” He built up the song with looped guitar and layered vocals that conveyed a sense of pain. It was an opener that silenced and entranced the crowd for the night ahead.

All the tracks he played from “Parallax” gained in the live translation as Cox manipulated the effects pedals at his feet. “Te Amo” offered a heavy five-minute intro with sparkling effects as Cox added drum beats and multiple guitar scales before breaking into the first lines. Almost 10 minutes elapsed as lights swirled and his strumming intensified. It was organized chaos that slowly evolved into musical bliss.

Each song felt like an audio collage being composed on the spot. From his 2008 debut solo album, he played the dreamy “Recent Bedroom” with effects that mushroomed in size while the stage basked in red lights. The altered state continued on the spaced-out “Modern Aquatic Nightsongs.”

Not all songs relied on effects. For “Mona Lisa,” one of the more poppy songs off “Parallax,” Cox let the vocal, tempo changes and harmonica do all the work. The night’s most gripping moment may have come with “Terra Incognita,” a slightly creepy tune carried by anguished lyrics and prickly guitar riffs that all drift into simple hypnotic “ooos.”

After completing his 75-minute main set, Cox returned for a seasonal “Artificial Snow,” followed by the drifting “Flagstaff” with a perfect segue into the closing “Attic Lights.” It was almost midnight.

Coming in 2012

Several groups have announced 2012 releases, including the seventh from Air, “Le Voyage Dans La Lune,” which resulted from the French electronic duo being asked to compose a modern score for the 1902 George Melies film. Veteran English rockers Spiritualized will be unveiling their seventh as well, “Sweet Heart Sweet Light” in March.

The soulful heartbreaker Chan Marshall, better known as Cat Power, is coming out at midyear with her first record of new material since 2006’s “The Greatest.” Indie experimentalist Animal Collective present new material at some point in 2012.

There are sophomore follow-ups from UK minimalists the XX, English rock duo the Big Pink, and local hip hop artist Santigold.

For the month ahead, New York will continue to see the no- longer-reclusive Jeff Mangum for a three-night sold-out run at Brooklyn Academy of Music, Jan. 19-21. Also we have the comedy duo of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein -- a member of the all-female rock group Sleater-Kinney -- bringing their hit show Portlandia to life at the Music Hall of Williamsburg Jan 20 and Bowery Ballroom Jan. 21. Both shows are sold out.

Here’s a selection of New York-area shows in January. Please note that opening bands aren’t always listed. Shows marked (SO) are sold out, although online services such as Craigslist often have tickets:

     (Jaime Widder works in sales for Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are his own.)

--Editors: Jeffrey Burke, Mark Beech.

To contact the writer on this story: Jaime Widder in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff in New York at

Steve Ballmer, Power Forward
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