Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Deerhunter - Cryptograms

As the titles professes, Deerhunter's sophomore album Cryptograms is 48 minutes of mysteriously encoded soundwaves. For those who don't know, a cryptogram is a piece of text encrypted by the replacing of each letter with a substitute letter or symbol. Every cryptogram needs a person to encrypt the message, as well as a person to decrypt the same text. The major question I have for Deerhunter is whether the music represents their search for a cipher or is it meant as the encrypted message. I feel like it's a combination of both.

I've just recently discovered Deerhunter, and until tonight knew nothing of their back story. Thanks to Aaron Hemphill's
(Liars) guestlist on Pitchfork, I got my first taste of "Spring Hall Convert" about three months back. The track stuck with me, and I bought the album the day it was released. As I sat down to write this review/post/piece/?, I floated around various Deerhunter related pages, and read an intriguing bio on Kranky.

The first half of the album was recorded first unsuccessfully in 2005. 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 psyche-pop songs fixating on adolescence, illness, and failing connections.
Although music must always stand on its own, the story of Cryptograms' creation is so inherently ingrained in the sound that it demands mentioning. It also brings the listener one step closer to decrypting the album's sonic message (presupposing they've encoded anything to begin with). Since I've mentioned the topic of sound, it might be a good time to describe the band's music.

Because Cryptograms was created from two distinct recording session's, Deerhunter jumps from ambient pitch-shifting and slow-building claustrophobic waves of drone, to more rounded vocal melodies and spacious songwriting. Despite this wide spectrum of sound, the album is remarkable unified in mood. Mostly because even the most upbeat song still emits a deep sorrow.

One theory that's been floating around my head is that the album's fracture represents the two halves of a cryptogram. The tangled, surrealism found in the first half of the album is the encrypted text, while the clarified delivery in the second half conveys the decrypted message. However, at this point I'm not sure what the message is... or I just don't want to know.

Buy the album and discover your own theory.

[www] Deerhunter - Cryptograms

[www] Deerhunter - Strange Lights

Also, be sure to catch them on tour:

03/02 Atlanta, GA - Drunken Unicorn
0303 Charleston, SC - Music Farm
03/04 Atlanta, GA - Variety Playhouse
03/14 Baton Rouge, LA - Spanish Moon (Gas Food Lodging Music Festival)
03/15 Austin, TX - Soho Lounge (SXSW)
03/16 Austin, TX - Emo's Jr. (SXSW; Pitchfork party)
03/18 Houston, TX - Mink
03/31 Jackson, MS - George Street Grocery
04/04 Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
04/06 Kansas City, MO - Record Bar
04/07 Denver, CO - Larimer Lounge
04/10 Seattle, WA - Neumos
04/11 Vancouver, British Columbia - Richard's on Richards
04/12 Portland, OR - Dante's
04/13 San Francisco, CA - 12 Galaxies
04/14 Los Angeles, CA - Echo
04/23 Toronto, Ontario - Legendary Horseshoe Tavern
04/25 Cambridge, MA - Middle East Upstairs
04/26 New York, NY - Mercury Lounge
04/28 Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's
04/29 Washington, DC - Rock & Roll Hotel

2 Comments:

Anonymous Jeff said...

This album really blew me away. Awesome stuff! I don't understand why some people have had shown hostility toward their music though.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous viagra online said...

I think that it is one of the best album in the History, I used to listen this kind of music.
I have in house this album , It is my personal collection.

12:18 PM  

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