December 19th, 2011 7:48am

The Strangest Dreams

Atlas Sound @ Bowery Ballroom 12/18/2011

Parallax / The Shakes / Te Amo / Walkabout / Amplifiers / Recent Bedroom / Modern Aquatic Nightsongs / Mona Lisa / My Angel Is Broken / Terra Incognita / “No destination” // Artificial Snow / Flagstaff / Attic Lights

Atlas Sound “Te Amo”

In music parlance, you would say that Bradford Cox performed solo at this gig, but the more accurate word would be “alone.” Cox seemed small and slight at the center of an empty stage, filling out his songs with live loops and effects as he was surrounded by colored smoke. He’s become very good with the loop pedals, constructing elaborate layers of sound with great grace and precision, and building up compositions on the spot with remarkable drama. Most of the songs were extended, with intro sequences that gradually teased out the textures and themes before snapping together into a familiar form. (He played these 13 songs in just under two hours.) Cox was even more impressive when he would cut out the layers of sound, stripping bare his voice and acoustic guitar for brief moments in larger compositions, or for a striking, jaw-dropping rendition of “Amplifiers.”

It’s not uncommon to see people perform by themselves, or to use loop pedals, but it is rare to witness a performance that feels so personal and direct – at times, this concert felt almost unnervingly intimate. It was a very moving and intense experience. I saw a few different people near me break into tears at different points in the show. A girl behind me was bawling through “Attic Lights.” I haven’t ever seen a show quite like this one.

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