Fans of this Atlanta four-piece are in for a real treat with the release of their first album for 4AD. Microcastle is the followup to 2006's critically acclaimed Cryptograms and departs from the highly constructed debut by doing away with much of the vast atmospherics, lifting the overall tempo of the record and injecting some exciting muscle into their sound. But this isn't the only treat in store. The release is accompanied by a bonus disc entitled Weird Era Cont. and is an album in its own right consisting of 13 new tracks.
Like The Pixies quiet/loud contrasts, Deerhunter construct their sound using a similar grasp of opposing forces. Their success lies in it's ability to build great, all-encomassing soundscapes of fog that swirl around you like soup, and then in a blink of en eye pierce this density with a clarity that dissipates all around it and appears, standing alone and shining with dazzling intensity. The other contrast widely used here is in scale. Opening track Cover Me (Slowly) launches off with crashing cymbols and soaring melody that instantly evokes visions of an ever expanding landscape growing wider and wider from a bounless basis. In a blink of an eye Agoraphobia follows this with stripped down drum beats and Bradford Cox's intimate vocals and the listener is abruptly jolted down to earth. Cryptograms employed the same use of contrasts but did it from song to song with almost every other song being an expansive and densely textured instrumental composition. Microcastle incorporates all this but does it in a way that brings a smoother flow to the album.
Bradford Cox's vocals shift greatly according to the musical arena they find themselves in. The slow pace of Activa brings with it Cox's thick, laborious delivery as if each word is wading through treacle. Whereas Nothing Ever Happened with it's deep driving guitar and relentless beat sees Cox drift with dreamy buoyancy. Like his side project Atlas Sound, Cox creates very thoughtful compositions where each word uttered is enveloped by bristling synth fuzz, gentle percussion and layer upon layer of subtle sampling and production. But he builds on this greatly with this release adding muscular guitar chords that, in the case of Nothing Ever Happened and closer Twilight At Carbon Lake, gather up all this delicate construction and cary it all away on huge waves of spund that never seem to end. They bring an epic quality to the latter half of the record and continue the trend well into the bonus disc.
Weird Era Cont. is far less considered and benefits greatly for it. The songs seem to be less precious like the hard work was done with the first disc and the pressures off here. As a result it's as good if not better than the lead record. Once you reach the end of this disc you get a dazzling idea of what it was all building up to in the form of the final track Calvary Scars II / Aux Out. It's a ten minute finale of epic proportions that ends up pounding and pounding and in the course of this it changes the face of thsi whole release and it, and the entire second disc bump the whole thing up to a fine score.
27th Oct 2008 - Tumblr4
Rainwater Cassette Exchange
Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel
Matador Singles '08
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