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Halcyon Digest
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Last years Atlas Sound album "Logos" from the Bradford Cox inspired side project was a wicked delight and therefore it is a pleasure to report that his primary source of music making namely the band "Deerhunter" originating out Atlanta, Georgia have come out firing on all cylinders on this brilliant fourth album. That said a slight problem may be in store for those of you still deeply smitten by the 2008 double album and wall of guitar noise beast "Microcastle", since this is altogether a very different proposition. Praise or blame for this must be partly apportioned to the presence of Ben Allen at the mixing desk, this is the man who after all conjured up the sonic alchemy in terms of Animal Collective's 2009 genre defining masterpiece "Merriweather post pavilion".

Check out the watery and sweet "Helicopter" on Halycon Digest and try not to note the presence of otherworldly elements which Avey Tare, Panda Bear and co teased to the forefront on Merriweather (and for good measure also seek out one of the plethora of mixes of this song on the net not least the joyous Star Slinger mash up every bit the darker cousin of Passion Pit's "Sleepyhead"). Truly, truly wonderful stuff in both guises. Then you have the latest single "Revival" a mix of Brian Wilson like "Smile" induced psychedelia and 70's glam rock. This deserves to a chart smash and of course pigs will fly. The six minute plus "Desire lines" alternatively suggests that the Cox might have had an advance copy of the Arcade Fire's "Suburbs" and is full of minor baroque and theatrical flourishes leading up to a storming conclusion which has become the Montreal minstrels signature sound. The Guardian has said of this album that it is "timeless music, seemingly made with the conviction that loveliness will always be lovely" and no where is this more apparent than on the epic album closer "He would have laughed" dedicated to Cox's friend the late Jay Reatard which is a two part song that shifts from a rolling bubbling synth pop with almost a Baba O'Reilly motif to a shift at 5 minutes into a darker song punctuated by contradictory lyrics such as "I lived on a farm, yeah/ I never lived on a farm" which ends so suddenly you despair the CD may be scratched or blotted by a dirty fingerprint. Along the way to this glorious final destination you will encounter other fine songs such as the slow acoustic "Basement scene" which sounds like Buddy Holly on acid, the thumping "Memory Boy" a pop song of such excellence that the British Quality Foundation should investigate and the sax driven "Coronada" which is almost a dirty rocker in this albums context.

This is an absurdly endearing record and even after the first listen you know that you are partaking of a dish to which you will return for afters. There is absolutely no reason why Deerhunter and Bradford Cox in particular shouldn't be names whispered in hushed and hallowed tones around the world of rock/indie music and the phrase "next big thing" attached to them without fear of ridcule. "Halycon Digest" is an album that Cox and Co have threatened to make over the past decade and aren't we especially grateful that they have delivered in full.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 30 September 2010
I discovered Deerhunter through their excellent third album "Microcastle" in 2008, their first album released by 4AD. Now, with "Halcyon Digest", their "ambient punk" sound has progressed to a kind of a dreamy lo-fi "psychedelic 60s" popsound. The production is lush and clearly showing a more accessible band, with great melodic songs. The songs "Revival", "Helicopter", "Coronado" and "Memory Boy" show exactly that. "Desire Lines" and "Fountain Stairs", with their beautiful wall of sound effect, are two other favorite tracks from this amazing album. And last but not least, remember to check out the great Atlas Sound album "Logos", released last year. Atlas Sound is the hobbyband-project to Deerhunter frontman Brad Cox.
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on 9 January 2015
I flogged this when it came out, loved it. Then I put it away. However having a bit of an obsessive personality, 'Desire Lines' came into my head last week and kept going around, I thought the best way to exorcise it was to listen to the album. And god, what an album it is. I had heard their earlier efforts, and thought they were good, but every now and again a band or artist just seems to put out something that you think 'where did that come from', every thing just falls into place and they just blast off.
From the dreamy opener 'Earthquake', which is like listening to a beautiful painting, to the down and dirty 'Coronado', with its snakey sax, 'Halcion Digest' takes you on a trip from the 50's to the 90's, the poignant 'Helocoptor' tugs at the heart strings, while 'Memory Boy', looks back to long gone adolescent memories. But the clincher for me is still 'Desire Lines', seven or so minutes of pure bliss, From the sparkling sunny chorus, to that epic duelling guitar passage that takes it out, You just close your eyes and go with it, it takes you to a good place. This is one of those rare albums that doesn't have a dud on it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Bradford Cox is a man who has spent a long time playing the part of indie-darling. Critics and fans alike have rushed to praise his musical expeditions with both Deerhunter and the off-shot band Atlas Sound. One critisism I've constantly seen directed at him however is that he has yet to create that one truly great peice of work that will forever define his legacy, his 'Sgt. Pepper' so to speak (I don't concur with this consensus though, I thought the last Deerhunter record 'Microcastle/Weird Era Cont.' was a remarkable peice of work). I fear this album will sadly fall to the same fate. It is another great body of work but I think some will struggle to see past its slightly primitive exterior in order to witness its beautiful centre.

I came to this record expecting to hear something altogether different from its predecessor, early reviews talked of a 'stripped down' sound and a wider array of instruments used to complement the arrangements. To me, it sounded just like another Deerhunter record (albeit a slightly evolved one). The slightly off-kilter Beatles-esque pop songs remained, the C86-era sound pallette was still in evidence and Cox's voice still possesed a slight Stephen Malkmus like slacker drawl. So far, so Deerhunter. But one ingredient had added just a little spice, that being the production skills of Ben H. Allen. Last year Allen lent his vast skills to produce the Animal Collective's magnum opus (thus far!) 'Merriweather Post Pavilion', and 'Halcyon Digest' shares many a similarity with that monumental release. Both albums seem to have water cursing through their musical veins, obscuring the sound ever so slightly and putting the overall musical vision just out of reach. Snippets of words go unheard, instruments are warped to the point of not knowing their origin and percussion seems to magically appear from every available angle as if the music has somehow entered a 3rd dimension. It can sometimes be a disorientating experience, but it is never an unpleasant one.

The record opens with two songs that are very typical of the Deerhunter sound and will go nowhere in convincing naysayers of the band of their greatness. Both place layer upon layer of white noise and feedback over Cox's voice and almost go out of their way to hide the pop nuggets that lay underneath. Opener 'Earthquake' is a case in point. It starts with an almost Kraftwerk like drum & synth combination before Cox's almost inaudible vocals wash over the whole thing (I didn't realise the comedic value of the openers lyrics until I read the lyric sheet provided) whilst introducing some beautiful waves of noise via various keyboards and percussion. But Cox has always found time to include the occassional 'pop' song into his records and tracks such as 'Revival', 'Helicopter' and 'Coronado' will hopefully provide the band with a few new listeners. All are easily digested and in a bygone age may well have found themselves washed ashore upon the island of the Radio 1 playlist.

The album is an extremly solid and reliable listen with not one wasted moment, but special mention must go to closing track 'He Would Have Laughed' which is dedicated to the late Jay Reatard. The rolling drums seem almost at pains to keep up with the twinkling keyboards and Cox gives one of his most passionate and desolute vocal performaces to date. Throw away lines such 'I lived on a farm, yeah/I never lived on a farm' sit alongside the emotinally charged mantra 'I won't rest till I can't breath/I can't breath with you' and the song ends on such an ebrupt end that you are certainly left wanting for more.

The record as a whole put me in mind of the Sofia Coppola movie 'Lost In Translation', which was scored by My Bloody Valentine's frontman Kevin Shields. I constantly imagined myself standing alongside Scarlett Johansson staring out upon the Toyko skyline from a desolute hotel suite (message to self: must stop with this fantasy, my old heart really can't take the strain). And that really is the highest praise I can bestow upon theis album: it is good enough to sit alongside the best of Kevin Shields work. Yet another album-of-the-year contender in a year already full to the brim with them.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 17 October 2010
Currently the front runner for my favourite album of 2010 which considering how many great albums have been released this year says a lot. The guitar playing has a comforting and timelessly familiar quality that you think you'd only hear from classic songs from yesteryear.

'Don't Cry' starts with the lead singer's voice sounding all wibbly and glam like the start of some old Marc Bolan/T-Rex song.

'Revival' has a cathartic release at the point when the lyrics declare 'Darkness, it doesn't make much sense', listening to the squashed lo-fi vocals you'll hopefully glean some of the chills I've felt on listening.

'Desire Lines' is the centrepiece with a earworm of a chorus both subtle and powerful, followed by a lengthy outro that leaves you hanging until you can replay it all again.

'Coronado' is a sleek anthemic song with squawking sax and burns brightly as the penultimate track of a very well made album.

The final song is a dedication to Jay Reatard and for me reaches its emotional highpoint when the heavy surge of languorous guitar swathes in towards the end, offering a huge bout of weighty nostalgia and a shared feeling as it suddenly ends that music has the power to take us far away from our demons.
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on 25 May 2011
I had to be in the right mood for Deerhunter's previous album (microcastle etc), but this is a fantastic album that sustains its overall woozy, hypnotic feeling throughout. For me, it works best as an album to listen through as a whole rather than as individual tracks. The lyrics are an interesting revelation and will make many view the single 'Helicopter' in a whole new light! I can't think of an album from 2010 that I enjoyed more.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 21 October 2010
I first came across this band with Microcastles which was OK but promised so much more and because of this it ended up being frustatingly dissapointing. Halcyon Digest however delivers the goods in full. Dreamy slabs of melodic guitar drone with an almost Cocteau Twins wraithlike vocal in the background. Track 3 is particularly special.
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on 27 January 2014
Arrived much quicker than I thought it would, and at a great price too. Record was in perfect condition, one of the best LPs I've purchased! :)
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 2010
With talismanic frontman Bradford Cox at the helm, the current Deerhunter line up is well travelled, well read and fast becoming seasoned thanks to their prolificacy, if not their time served. Halcyon Digest is the band's fourth studio LP, the first since 2008's dreamy indie outing Microcastle. In between the two, the highly accomplished Rainwater Cassette Exchange EP also saw the light of day.

On Halcyon Digest, Cox and guitarist Lockett Pundt take turns on vocal, each burying their contributions lower in the mix than ever before. And, with the exception of the lengthy instrumental outro on "Desire Lines", the pair also take it easy when compared to Microcastle's psychedelic jams and the song-driven highs of Rainwater.

In parts, Halcyon Digest seems like a faltering memory in comparison, hanging mirage-like in the mind's eye. Its hazy rhythms fade in and out on understated percussion. This runs the risk of the album disappearing into the background - and it can do so - but only if you let it. Undoubtedly shy, but also ferociously consistent, Halcyon Digest encourages the listener to succumb throughout by suggestion rather than statement, and, rather like Cox's laptop side-project Atlas Sound does, it succeeds, beckoning devotion almost subliminally.

Cox reputedly constructs his songs in a stream-of-conscious fashion, layering instruments until a track becomes "crowded", though he concedes to the inclusion of saxophone on "Coronado" being directly attributable to some heavy rotation of Exile On Main Street while recording. And, whether retrospectively or not for the lyrics are largely indecipherable, the 7+ minute closer "He Would Have Laughed" is dedicated to the late garage whirlwind Jay Reatard with whom the band shared a close relationship since their split 7" in 2008.

It's not important however as Halcyon Digest's undeniably beauty is everywhere. The sparse crunch of percussive synth and Moses Archuleta's drums make the opener "Earthquake", and its ambient indie coasts on shimmering shoegaze textures that seem effortless only because of the band's skilful intricacy. Out of their dreamscape occasionally saunter more straightforward material, and, to a track, "Don't Cry", "Revival" and, in particular, the catchy "Memory Boy" have the lazy hum of summer pop to them, while the forlorn "Basement Scene" houses travel weary recollections of The Everly Brothers' "All I Have To Do Is Dream".

Save for infrequently being a touch too intangible, Halcyon Digest offers a rich feast - one that's perhaps initially reluctant to show its true colours, but ultimately also one that is to savour.

Advised downloads: "Earthquake" and "Memory Boy"
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 July 2011
Found it a bit different from what I'm used to listening, but on repeated play, it is one of Deerhunter's better efforts. Highly recommend this album.
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