Deerhunter:Deerhunter began in 2001 with the ambition of fusing the lulling hypnotic states induced by ambient and minimalist music with the klang and propulsion of garage rock. The band has weathered chaotic line-up changes, the death of a member, and much discouragement. Their live performances almost always leave audiences polarized, and have been referred to by Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s in NME as bordering on “a religious experience.” They are based in Atlanta.
Cryptograms is the second full-length offering from Deerhunter, and their first for Kranky. The album took almost two years to finish and was the product of emotional, physical, and financial strain on the group. The result is an album that finds the band shifting from discordant catharsis, and forming a sonic identity that completely expresses the place from which they have arrived. The album functions in part as a study in duality and the concept of the same experiences seen from two angles, present and past. The most obvious manifestation of this is in the chronological sequencing. The first half of the album was recorded first unsuccessfully in 2005. These recordings were a blur at best, wordless and bordering on psychological atrophy. The sessions failed to provide anything tangible, and were racked with technical and personal problems, including out-of-tune pianos, panic attacks, and a tape machine that seemed to fail to capture the full spectrum of ambience the band was exploring. The band returned home, having failed, and considered giving up. The idea arose to give it one last shot and exactly one year from the date of the recording of their first self-titled LP at a small studio in rural GA, they returned to that same studio and plugged in. The session resulted in the first half of the record which was recorded in one day and completely filled the reel of tape they brought with them. Cryptograms’ first side begins with an introduction leading to the title track, and ends with the tape literally spinning off the end of the reel in the middle of a drone layered with bells and accordion (“Red Ink”). The second half of the record, also recorded in one day, in the November of 2005, represents the band in an entirely different state. “Spring Hall Convert” opens with the line, “…so I woke up…” and introduces a set of focused psych-pop songs fixating on adolescence, illness, and failing connections.
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