KEXP has posted “Te Amo” from an Atlas Sound set at the Ace Hotel, during the CMJ Music Marathon in New York City last month. It was the final performance sponsored by the Seattle radio station, and I luckily snagged a place on the tile floor as the crowd gathered around the musical equipment before the show. Bradford Cox was been creating music under the name Atlas Sound since he was ten, when not busy with his band mates in Deerhunter. (Living with the genetic disorder Marfan syndrome manifested a solitary existence growing up so music was a refuge, supposedly there are boxes of cassettes to support this.) He was there overseeing the set up, concerned about the levels and the subdued nature of the setting. Cox likened it to playing at the New York University library with all the people busy on laptops.
“Is there anybody listening to me talk right now?” He asked in a southern drawl referencing his hometown of Atlanta adding, “It’s so quiet!” This comment elicited some cheers and clapping, to which he scolded the audience, saying how he hadn’t done anything but perhaps everyone just liked his outfit? Cox stood ready to play in windowpane fabric pajamas festooned with geese and Topsiders with no socks. His wispy honey colored hair framed an angular face and on top a very slight build. Yet he implored those in control until there was a distinctly louder feedback, explaining how “it’s not a folk project. “ There was also a nice shout out to the staff at the Ace Hotel, since he considers it a home away from home filled with friends – happy to be there since it was such an easy gig to get right downstairs to the lobby. Cox has a favorite room to stay in and has even recorded two songs there recently, when booked time at the studio had run out.
The new lush, stream of consciousness release, Parallax, provided most of the set list. He joked between songs and was clearly at ease in his surroundings. It was captivating to watch Cox command the foot pedals to create layers of sound from his Gibson acoustic guitar and prerecorded loops. Cascading synth sounds build the introduction for “Te Amo” before Cox offered warm vocals to float above them. After he ended with the dulcet tones of “Flagstaff,” Cox donned a light brown corduroy jacket to chat with the many friends and fans that waited in line patiently for their turn with the lone musician. Always warm and engaging, he allowed photos and even a few girls to sit on his lap like a skinny Santa Claus. As I left the building hours later, I spied Cox still getting his picture taken by official photographers outside. I told him he was quite a trooper to still be at it, especially as the temperatures were dropping with the sun.
“Well, I sleep all day,” he told me. “My life is not that hard.”