Atlas Sound - Biography
Atlas Sound is the solo project of Bradford Cox, the idiosyncratic lead singer of Atlanta-based indie rock group, Deerhunter. Originally from Athens, Georgia, Cox’s solo efforts are eccentric, often self-expressive forays into something he “couldn’t make work in a five-piece rock band” with Deerhunter. In 2007, when Deerhunter went on hiatus, Cox began recording under Atlas Sound—a name he’d written under since the sixth grade, and took from a brand of tape player he used as a kid making multiple-layered cassettes of guitars, drums and his voice. Since then he has released two full-length albums, went on national tours and become an indie icon.
Born in 1982, Cox is characterized by his stream-of-consciousness lyrical content and poignant subject matter. Diagnosed at a young age with Marfan Syndrome—a rare condition that affects the body’s connective tissues, which also afflicted Abraham Lincoln and Joey Ramone—he was teased ceaselessly growing up, and as an adult cuts a striking figure. Having undergone multiple surgeries in youth, he is a lank 6-foot-4 with exaggerated features, abnormally long fingers and a sort of frailness to him, as he simultaneously embraces his physical being (he commonly wears muscle shirts or old maid dresses on stage and sticks the microphone all the way in his mouth) while eschewing it (he admits to hating his body). His physical appearance and stage theatrics have become nearly as talked about as the music itself.
Cox co-founded the electronic pysch-rock band Deerhunter in 2001 with drummer Moses Archuleta. Culling influences from a wide-range of artists from Stereolab, Bowie and My Bloody Valentine to The B-52s, Deerhunter would go on to—along with Black Lips—define the burgeoning Atlanta indie-rock scene. In the next five years the band would release two LPs—2005’s Turn It Up Faggot (Stickfigure) and 2007’s Cryptograms (Kranky)—and a handful of EPs, garnering positive press along the way. Deerhunter would also return in 2008, releasing the eclectic Microcastle on Kranky.
But Cox was always Atlas Sound. He released dozens and dozens of original songs via his blog—most of them taking “no more than an hour” to construct.
As Atlas Sound, he officially released his debut album in 2007, the 14-track Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel (Kranky), which as an abstract confessional climbed up Billboard’s Heatseekers chart to #32. Heavily improvised and repetitive, eerie in parts with hissing tape and otherworldly in others with laptop manipulations, it wasn’t a huge departure from Deerhunter musically. But Let the Blind Lead was thought to carry more of his autobiography in it, and Cox attributed the material to introspection.
Though an unfinished version of his follow-up album, Logos (2009), leaked two months before it would officially be released via Kranky in the States, Cox grew dispirited by it and nearly nixed the album entirely. Instead, he finished the production and released it in October of 2009. The 11-track album was more of a global affair, rather than a bedroom recording of Let the Blind Lead, and featured collaborations with Noah Lennox (a.k.a. Panda Bear of Animal Collective) on “Walkabout” and Laetitia Sadier (of Stereolab) in “Quick Canal.” Recorded at various spots all over the world, the disparate songs on Logos continue his “feel-out” songwriting style, and the cover art was also striking—it was a startling image of Cox with his shirt off to reveal a concave chest, with his face whited out with light. Logos was met with critical praise and ended up another indie success, hitting #7 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. In 2011 the band released Parallax.