Song Review: Atlas Sound’s “Terra Incognita”

Bradford Cox

Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox originally debuted his side-piece, Atlas Sound, as an outlet for his experimental bedroom pop inhibitions.

Originally putting the focus on swirling guitars, dreamy, distorted textures and little to no vocals on his part, Atlas Sound’s soundscape has evolved over the course of its releases into a mixed bag of styles while Cox himself has begun making himself more visible with each passing work (See: 2009’s Logos.)

It’s this which makes it unsurprising to hear Cox could now very well be using the project to shine a spotlight on his solo songwriting strengths (A recent live performance at All Tomorrow’s Parties and the album’s artwork featuring a photo shot by Mick Rock up above is further evidence of that.)

Terra Incognita

“Terra Incognita” is the first track to be shared off Atlas Sound’s upcoming third LP, Parallax. It’s a soft, slow-moving acoustic number, and based on the way Bradford enunciates the words “holy ghost” and “host,” it wouldn’t be so crazy to assume Mr. Cox has been indulging in the latest effort by former Deerhunter tourmate, Kurt Vile.

In signature Atlas Sound fashion, though, “Terra Incognita” takes an airy, atmospheric turn at the 3:50 mark when Cox’s voice comes apart to form a cloud of backing vocals bouncing off the soundboard from all directions as his acoustic guitar is swallowed into a hazy blackhole. With so many of Cox’s friends and influences in the indie rock community putting emphasis on stripped down songwriting in light of noisier pasts this year, “Terra Incognita” makes for a soothing progression for the Athens-based musician and an intriguing precursor of what Bradford Cox sounds like when he’s got both feet planted on the ground.…