Deer me

Pub date April 10, 2007
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

Weathered over the years by lineup changes, tension-fueled recording sessions, and a band member’s death, Atlanta’s Deerhunter have endured their share of setbacks since forming in 2001. But wherever chaos laughs itself into a tizzy, there lurks a handsome reward just waiting to jump out and squeeze our brooding bunch from the Big Peach. Following the January release of their sophomore effort, Cryptograms (Kranky), the quintet experienced just that: their status skyrocketed to indie music darlings almost overnight.

Some who saw the outfit open for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have differed: on Deerhunter’s MySpace page, one spectator describes the group as "a pile of shit in this ‘thing’ we call the music business," while another testifies vocalist Bradford Cox "got a boner twice" while administering "false fellatio" to the rest of the band (Cox denies the allegation).

What’s certain, however, is Cryptograms’ alluring spirit. Recorded in two consecutive sessions, the album shifts from queasy art punk ("Lake Somerset") to shimmering cacophony ("Red Ink") to soothing pop ("Hazel St."). Generating a perpetual squall of numbing dissonance bristling with feedbacked guitar treatments and lulling white noise, the group collages ambient clatter and nostalgic psych-pop fraught with portraits from our past: the Creation catalog, Brian Eno, Galaxie 500, and Spacemen 3. Cryptograms‘ shuffling tone is set during its initial seconds — the lethargic sound of trickling water dissolves quickly into an electronic cackle of whirring effects pedals. Then just as the looped delirium reaches its unbearable brink, the distortion-charged title track shaves the fuzz down to a single note. "My greatest fear / I fantasized / The days were long / The weeks moved by / Before I knew / I was awake / My days were through / It was too … late," Cox mumbles.

Cox should have nothing to fear at all — his band’s tour in support of its Fluorescent Grey EP on Kranky might get the occasional heckle, but it’ll probably be too hard to hear amid the amplifiers’ roar. (Chris Sabbath)


With the Ponys and Turn Me On Dead Man

Fri/13, 9 p.m., $10

12 Galaxies

2565 Mission, SF

(415) 970-9777