In Atlas Sound’s newest track off his upcoming album Parallax, “Terra Incognito,” Bradford Cox explores new territory while maintaining a sense of familiarity, which those who have grown fond of his music should be able to appreciate.
The track keeps the same atmospheric feeling that previous Atlas Sound and Deerhunter releases hold embedded deep in their musical DNA. Lyrically “Terra Incognito” doesn’t venture too far from the lyrical content of Cox’s other work in Atlas Sound; recounting his bout with Marfan Syndrome (“These ancient technologies strengthen my bones”) and evoking religious figures (“I kept Gods and caravans close to me/In case one day I need some company”) are things that Cox has done before, but he always manages to retell these stories and still touch the hearts of listeners.
Not all is the same in the world of Atlas Sound however, in fact the first thing fans will notice immediately, is something new to Cox’s music. Unlike his previous work in Atlas Sound and Deerhunter, “Terra Incognito” has crisp and clear production. Long gone is the fuzziness of Cox’s previous records, and now the listener can hear everything that is happening in the track with much less effort. The acoustic guitars which drive this six-minute long acoustic ballad are perfectly audible, while the bass line in the background is heard quite clearly, both being instruments that seemed to have gotten lost in the mix in the tracks that composed 2009’s Logos. Cox’s light and silky voice is mixed perfectly with the rest of the instrumentation, allowing it to coexist with the music in a perfect balance.
Overall the track is a pretty relaxed ordeal; there’s no trace of the joyfulness that certain tracks in Logos had, and the distortion that accompanied the songs on Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel is completely absent. Hell, the climax of the song is a couple of “pa pa pas” and percussion joining the music, but don’t be fooled, because relaxed doesn’t mean bad. With all the music being so clear it seems like Cox has put even more of himself on the table for people to hear. He no longer hides in a veil of crunching guitars and reverb-heavy vocals, but instead makes sure to seem as human as possible.
If this track is any indication of what Parallax is to be, then those who are expecting more of the same might be disappointed. Those who are waiting for more songs like “Walkabout” will not be pleased, but those who enjoyed more mellow tracks from Cox’s discography such as “Attic Lights” and “Sailing” should have no problem loving this one. Bradford Cox has already proved to be better than most fuzzy modern dreampop artists, and now he’s coming to make sure he’s not just the best in that category, but one of the best overall modern songwriters.
Listen to “Terra Incognito” below.