SHOW // HEALTH & Atlas Sound
On the first day of this year’s Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle, L.A.’s HEALTH played in a time-slot directly prior to Bradford Cox of Deerhunter performing as Atlas Sound, and the juxtaposition proved appropriate.
HEALTH began their set by creating a monolith of guitar noise and relentless pounding from two drummers. Over the next hour, they slowly carved away at their massive hanging block of sound, drawing looping patterns on its surface, revealing song structures and compelling rhythms in the process. By the end, they were playing a song that nearly sounded like a conventional rock ballad. The sense of development over the course of an hour, the dredging of pop from a primordial squall, was staggering.
Atlas Sound presented an inversion of this method. On record, Cox’s songs tend towards gentle, looping bedroom pop awash in electronic touches, topped with his high voice (similar to the vocals found on many HEALTH tracks.) Live, Cox pieces together his songs with acoustic guitar, a number of pedals and a harmonica that, although previously used on the acoustic version of Kid Klimax, was still an unexpected and intriguing replacement for the electronic elements found on his records. When 2009′s Ultimate Summer Jam “Walkabout” emerged from a few plucked notes, it was a slower song with a new dimension of melancholy, more light shed on its depths.