Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Live shows: Broadcast and Atlas Sound at Le Poisson Rouge, Oct. 20

This weekend, Broadcast and Atlas Sound, with support from the Selmanaires, will be appearing at Neumos in Seattle on Saturday, Oct. 31, and at the Doug Fir in Portland on Sunday, Nov. 1. Having just seen this same tour last week as part of CMJ, I can draw two conclusions:

1. If you have any interest in the new Atlas Sound album, Logos, go.
2. Broadcast is a perfectly adequate Halloween activity.

Concerning 1: The primary draw here is the Atlas Sound show. Atlas Sound: Bradford Cox of Deerhunter: is using the Selmanaires as his backing band and together they’re performing absolutely stunning reworkings of material from Logos, his new record released last week. Over the course of an hour-long set, Cox’s destroyed Motown jams, low-key dance experiments and fractured acoustics were reworked predominantly into aching, gorgeous country music; this was nowhere near as weird as it sounds, really. Since the set is computer-free despite the fact that this is music made by one person with looping software, Cox spends much of the set doing really impressive tricks with looping pedals, making songs emerge through all sorts of techniques I certainly could never reproduce. Album highlights like “Criminals” were given smaller yet strikingly pretty arrangements, and they played up the strengths of his vocal melodies in the process. Following what was either a new song or an introduction built on some sort of arpeggiator trick, “Walkabout” was reduced to its Dovers-sampling hook played on acoustic guitar and deprived of Panda Bear’s harmonies, yet still sounded huge and all-encompassing by its end. It was hard not to be impressed by just how good all the material sounded, as well as how well it worked given what little resemblance it bore to the recorded version.

Concerning 2: Broadcast’s set is the single darkest, most intense thing I’ve seen this year. I did not see Sunn 0))) supporting their album Monoliths and Dimensions, but Broadcast, still a duo, albeit one with a huge screen, delivered a whole lot of dense, haunted psychedelia. The set opened with one of the longest, densest low-frequency attacks I have ever heard accompanied by distorted footage, likely by collaborator Julian House of the Focus Group, of spirals, winters and other grayscale terror. This then dove headfirst into “Corporeal” off of 2005’s “Tender Buttons” (still their most recent proper full-length), and by this point the set’s tone had been established; Broadcast now buries their sixties pop leanings underneath drum machines that sound like they can’t actually keep time. Trish Keenan’s gorgeous vocals are now hidden amongst layers of broken-sounding objects and walls of sound become borderline oppressive. Whether or not it was good is another question entirely; I’ve never seen a set more clearly polarize an audience, as it’s usually a case of a band either being straight-up bad or good, not the band providing an experience that half a group of people that paid to see them appreciates and half finds utterly repellent. Broadcast’s pop sensibilities have been set aside in favor of playing the crowd as human tuning forks, and whether or not that’s a positive or utterly infuriating experience isn’t something I can easily decide for anyone but myself.

That said, I can say that: provided one wants to see live music in Seattle or Portland this weekend instead of attending an actual haunted house: Broadcast will without a doubt be the next best choice, as there is no shortage of haunt in what they’re doing. It really is kind of alarming, especially if you’re averse to feeling low-frequency drones throughout the entire upper body. Atlas Sound, on the other hand, simply has a very good show right now and one quite worth catching.

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