CMJ Live: Sleepwalking With Broadcast And The Atlas Sound


Broadcast/The Atlas Sound
(Le) Poisson Rouge
Tuesday, October 20

Two trippy, languid, insular headphone bands — best appreciated in private, while wearing a Snuggie and high on mushrooms — offered back to back at a crowded CMJ show, with pristine sound but absolute zero forward momentum. Hell is other people, and, unfortunately, the vast majority of Broadcast’s set.

The Atlas Sound goes first and fares better: The brand-new Logos has some gorgeous, thoroughly disorienting moments of homemade dream-pop splendor (“Quick Canal,” with Stereolab’s Laetita Sadler, is the jam). But even with two drum sets onstage (Bradford Cox himself hops on one when he’s bored), these digitally distressed acoustic jams feel weightless, aimless, rhythmless, simple bedroom-folk sketches gussied up with pedal loops and blooping keyboards. Deerhunter is the better live act, at least, by orders of magnitude. Cox ends the set alone, transforming Logos‘ cryptic and ethereal title track into a Neil Young acoustic-and-harmonica lullaby; elsewhere, his perverse frontman magnetism keeps things from flying off the rails entirely.

BRADFORD: “You getting ready for Halloween? Me too.”

DUDE IN CROWD: What’re you gonna be?”

BRADFORD: “Guess.”

No one guesses.

Hook a malfunctioning eight-bit Nintendo up to a giant video screen and a studio-pro sound-system with the bass turned all the way up and you’ve approximated the audio/visual dirge of Broadcast’s set well enough. The English duo flank the video screen, unlit and unanimated, kicking off with snoozy peals of yet more electronic bloopage and Trish Keenan’s flat, childlike moaning — it’s a solid half-hour before anything resembling a song emerges, and even then it only makes you long for the tune- and playfulness of, say, High Places. “Lunch Hour Pops” has a nicely narcotic sing-song quality to it, but everything is else is straight “I went to an experimental-film screening and a self-indulgent art-rock show broke out” langour. They will be a gentler, less aggressive Fuck Buttons for Halloween. It’s a lousy costume.