Bradford Cox Loves Free Stuff

Bradford Cox: Desired, Confused.

In my previous Deerhunter post, I mentioned the prolific output (and constant generosity) of Bradford Cox. For more than a year he’s been making lyrics, videos, a series of “micromixes”, demos, outtakes, new tracks, and “virtual 7-inches” available for free over at the Deerhunter/Atlas Sound blog. The overwhelming majority of the new music was recorded solo under Cox’s Atlas Sound moniker and much of it certainly falls somewhere near the ambient bedroom-pop sound that defined his excellent Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel. But, within that scope he manages to approach his music from a variety of perspectives and forges out a gamut of pretty cool tracks. Here are some highlights:

First, I should mention that 4AD just announced a chance to win one (of 100 copies) of Deerhunter’s On Platts Eyott Island session cassette tapes (an additional 100 were given away at Deerhunter’s Halloween concert in Atlanta). Recorded by Cox as a kind of faux-John Peel session using vintage equipment on a small nature reserve island off the Thames, he burns through an improv intro, a Cryptograms track (“Spring Hall Convert”), an alternate version of “Backspace Century” from Weird Era Cont., and a handful of songs from Microcastle. Reworked into a continuous, stripped-down acoustic jam, these tracks still prove their strengths without the monumental support of their original production. You can stream the whole session and submit your name and e-mail for a chance to win over at the 4AD website.

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Download: Deerhunter – Microcastle (Platts Eyott Session)
Buy: Pick up Deerhunter’s Microcastle / Weird Era Cont. from Kranky Records (U.S.), 4AD (U.K.), or Insound.

Check out more free music after the jump.

Next… my favorite A-side from the Atlas Sound virtual 7-inch series, the perverse and playful “Holiday”. It plays more like an unfinished Microcastle outtake than an Atlas Sound song, grounded in simple, infectious guitar hooks and steady, accented tambourine shakes (always a plus). But that sweet, lo-fi 60s pop feel doesn’t distract from the dark lyrical content for long. Even if you didn’t fully process that first line, Cox intones “I’ll take you down to the frozen lake / I’ll hold the knife to your perfect fuckin’ face” within the first minute. Delightfully creepy.

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Download: Atlas Sound – Holiday

Cox also put out a few covers, including two he dedicated to his father who, according to Bradford, “likes depressing songs”, but is only actually depressed if “the Braves are losing” (classic dad style). I especially enjoyed his sparse take on Hank Williams’ somber “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”. Pretty faithful to the original, there’s a little less twang, but more reverb under a nice layer of tape hiss. His vocals are actually suited nicely for this kind of country music — I’d like to hear some more of his bedroom recordings tackle the genre.

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Download: Atlas Sound – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (Hank Williams cover)

Near Halloween some holiday-themed tracks got posted to the Deerhunter/Atlas Sound blog, in the form of “Two Halloween Danses” and a little lo-fi ditty called “Coffin Trick”. The latter recommends that one “Sing to the coffin that awaits you / Sing to the coffin in your mind / Sing to brace yourself”, while the scant vocalwork on either “danse” is primarily wordless and buried underneath waves of keyboard, piano, glockenspiel, electronic beats, shakers, and other sounds.

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Download: Atlas Sound – Coffin Trick

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Download: Atlas Sound – Danse Macabre

And finally, Bradford Cox hit us up with some ambient soundscapes. My favorite of these was probably “A Lullaby from the Netherlands” which Cox said he made “while bored trying to fall asleep in a hotel”. He also went on to describe the song as “kind of boring”, but that might be a bit like Erik Satie calling his music “musique d’ameublement” (furniture music). Sampling Carl Orff’s “Musik fur Kinder” (“Music for Children”), he crafted a repetitive, dreamy backdrop that surely could help a listener fall asleep… I wonder if composing the piece was as calming. “Galaxy Cruisers”, which Cox apparently wrote for tour-buddies Animal Collective, is another good one. With its spacey chimes, lots of pulsing and surging, and lurking bass thumps it actually kind of reminds me of some tracks slated to be released on Merriweather Post Pavilion.

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Download: Atlas Sound – A Lullaby from the Netherlands

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Download: Atlas Sound – Galaxy Cruisers

And there’s a whole lot more where this came from, so be sure to go to the Deerhunter/Atlas Sound blog and explore some of the other music that’s been posted there.

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