Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel

Infobox Album |
Name = Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel
Type = Album
Artist = Atlas Sound

Released = Flagicon|USA February 19, 2008
Flagicon|UK May 5, 2008
Recorded = Bradford Cox 2007
Genre = Ambient
Length = 50:01
Label = Kranky krank114
Producer =
Reviews =
*AbsolutePunk.net (93%) [http://absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=317752 link]
* Allmusic Rating|3.5|5 [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:avfixzehld0e link]
* "Alternative Press" Rating|4|5 March 2008, p.140
* The A.V. Club (B) [http://www.avclub.com/content/music/atlas_sound link]
* "Blender Magazine" Rating|3.5|5 [http://www.blender.com/guide/reviews.aspx?id=4952 link]
* "Billboard Magazine" (favourable) [http://billboard.com/bbcom/content_display/reviews/albums/e3i939be0e2597fa2cdba0f2e5b5e35acd9 link]
* "Crawdaddy!" (favorable) [http://crawdaddy.wolfgangsvault.com/Article.aspx?id=5550 link]
* Delusions of Adequacy (favourable) [http://adequacy.net/review.php?reviewID=8504 link]
* Drowned in Sound (8/10) [http://www.drownedinsound.com/articles/2942762 link]
* Dusted Magazine (favourable) [http://www.dustedmagazine.com/reviews/4108 link]
* "Magnet Magazine" (favourable) [http://www.magnetmagazine.com/reviews/revatlassound.html link]
* "Mojo" Rating|4|5 Apr 2008, p.112
* No Ripcord (8/10) [http://www.noripcord.com/reviews/music/atlas-sound/let-blind-lead-those-who-can-see-but-cannot-feel link]
* "Paste Magazine" Rating|4|5 [http://www.pastemagazine.com/action/article/6622/review/music/let_the_blind_lead_those_who_can_see_but_cannot_feel link]
* Pitchfork Media (8.6/10) (Best New Music) [http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/record_review/48633-let-the-blind-lead-those-who-can-see-but-cannot-feel link]
* PopMatters (8/10) [http://www.popmatters.com/pm/music/reviews/53037/atlas-sound-let-the-blind-lead-those-who-cannot-see/ link]
* Prefix Magazine (7.5/10) [http://www.prefixmag.com/reviews/atlas-sound/let-blind-lead-those-who-can-see-cannot-feel/17324/ link]
* Slant Magazine Rating|2.5|5 [http://www.slantmagazine.com/music/music_review.asp?ID=1291 link]
* Spin Magazine Rating|3.5|5 Mar 2008, p.96
* Sputnikmusic Rating|2.5|5 [http://www.sputnikmusic.com/album.php?reviewid=15368 link]
* Tiny Mix Tapes Rating|4|5 [http://www.tinymixtapes.com/Atlas-Sound link]
* Trax Magazine Rating|4|5
* Under the Radar (6/10) Winter 2008, p.80
* Urb Rating|4.5|5 [http://www.urb.com/reviews/cd/feature.php?ReviewId=519 link]

Last album =
This album =
Next album =
Misc = Extra album cover 2
Upper caption = 4AD Cover
Type = Album

Lower caption = European Edition

"Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel" is an album by ambient musician Atlas Sound. It was released on February 19, 2008 on indie-label Kranky and May 5, 2008 on 4AD for the European release.


This album was recorded using musical software program, Ableton Live. Cox seldom used effects that were not already built into the software. Cox was assisted by Brian Foote of the band Nudge, who showed him the basics of the software. Foote also helped in selection of equipment that would be used on the record. All of the lyrics on the album were created as they were being recorded on the first take.

Musical and lyrics

Musical content

“A Ghost Story” was conceived around a music sample of a young boy telling a ghost story, which was obtained from an internet audio archive that provides free music samples.cite web|title=Interview: Atlas Sound|accessdate=2007-01-17|work=Pitchfork Media |url=http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/feature/47762-interview-atlas-sound] Cox said of the young boy’s story, “I just thought it was moving, and I wanted to create a haunted record.” The song consists of “a cassette and effected hammer dulcimers.”

Lockett Pundt, a recurrent point of lyrical focus on the album, created a guitar loop which was the basis for the song “Cold as Ice”.

The sounds in “Small Horror” were intended to represent “banging depression.” Cox describes the musical aspects of the song as “concrete.” Specifically, Cox intended the song to act as a plea to someone that “can't return my love exactly how I extend it” and how he would rather they just pretended.

In the instrumental, “Ready Set Glow”, Cox desired “to create the impression of passing out and falling back into a bed of strobe lights.” Another instrumental, “After Class”, is a “sonic rearrangement” of a Deerhunter song that appeared on a 2008 compilation, "Living Bridge".

The last song on the album, an instrumental, was conceived to “create a little bit of a circle because the album begins on an ambient note, and I wanted the album to end on an ambient note, and in that way, the entire album was a dream.”

Lyrical content

“Recent Bedroom” lyrically conveys an experience had by Cox when his aunt passed away, “She was in her bedroom, and everybody knew she was about to pass away, and she went out, she faded out, and everybody just started crying.” Cox walked outside and although he was “overwhelmed” by the death, it did not bring him to tears as per the rest of his family. This event is expressed in the song by the lyrics, “I walked outside, I could not cry, I don’t know, I don’t know why.” Cox’s inability to cry, he explained, was attributed to “a period when I was very involved in drugs; I felt like I'd killed off my childhood instinct, which would've been to cry. I felt like I'd hollowed myself out, and I felt empty.” The song attempts to communicate “moving from childhood to adolescence and just that first transition where you start to feel a little bit emotionally vacant and detached.”

“River Card” is based on a Puerto Rican short story called “There’s a Little Coloured Boy at the Bottom of the River”. The story describes a boy who falls in love with his reflection in a river, though he believes it is another boy. Cox attempted to capture “this childhood homoerotic energy, which I remember experiencing and relating to.” In the conclusion of the story, the boy jumps into the water and drowns; thus, Cox reveals, “River Card” “is a song about a dead child.” This concept is emphasized by the lyrics “river so clear and blue, I'm so in love with you, but you'll drown me.”

The lyrical content in “Quarantined” was inspired by a Russian article about children living with AIDS. The article deals with “this idea that there's a chance that the virus could change and go dormant” and hence “children who are born with AIDS because of their parents' various lifestyles and mistakes…are in a hospital, quarantined and waiting to be changed.” Cox related this article to his individual experiences with children’s hospitals, “I was a very sickly child…I had to have a lot of surgeries when I was 16…I got real used to children's hospitals. They're kind of haunted, weird places.” This is encompassed by the lyrics “quarantined and kept so far away from my friends.”

Cox describes “On Guard” as a “a sad song.” The lyrics illustrate having to age and dealing with “newfound anxiety” when wanting to make friends. Cox explains this is “because you don't have the energy to represent yourself to people. You’re always on guard.”

A recurrent source of lyrical subject matter is Cox’s best friend, Lockett Pundt. “Winter Vacation” is about the first time Cox met Pundt, “The day I met Lockett I saw him in a bus port, and he looked so lonely…I was attracted to him, but not in some kind of like, just physical way. I was attracted to his melancholy, his sitting alone, staring at the ground…I immediately fell in love right then at first sight.” Cox was holidaying in Savannah and after meeting Pundt, Cox and his family drove to a beach; “Winter Vacation” relates directly to Cox’s memory of his beach surroundings, after his encounter with Pundt, “the [beach’s] details somehow were infected with that new love I had and seemed blown out of their normal kind of tame or subtle context. Everything seemed like an explosion. It all seemed new, it all seemed real bright, and I was so excited...It was just a warmth coming from within for me.” This sensation is represented lyrically by “I've seen waves, hushed and soaked in static. I've seen ice laced with foam - darkened beach at noon.” In “Scraping Past”, Cox proclaims the lyrics are about “moving on…And wondering if somebody is going to come with you or if they're going to stay behind.” It embodies this uncertainty by referencing “rain that comes and goes.” Cox declares that the song “is me saying, basically to Lockett, ‘Are you going to come with me, or are you staying here?’” In “Ativan” Cox examines his addiction to the drug of the same name, as well as his relationship with Pundt, “…it talks a lot about how things have changed between me and Lockett's relationship and how he's met a girl and…our friendship is never gonna change, but it's difficult sometimes.” Therefore, Cox asserts that he would “rather just take whatever drugs it takes to go to sleep and sleep through it…I'm not prepared to face it yet.”

The lyrical content in “Cold as Ice” is based upon a relationship Cox had with a girl named Alice, whom Cox had been in love with in 5th grade. Cox had proposed to her with a ring and Alice rejected Cox and claimed that “This ring is a cheap piece of crap.” Years later, Cox worked with Alice at a Subway restaurant; sometimes, “for no reason”, she requested that Cox watch her get changed into her uniform in the restaurant’s refrigerator, which was “cold as ice.” Cox reasons that “She was trying to torture me or something.”

The concept of “Bite Marks”, Cox states, is “sadomasochism and boy prostitution.” Cox utilised an experience he had when he was kissing a man and the man “bit me really, really hard on my shoulder, and I had bite marks that were there for like two weeks.” This was the basis for the song’s subject matter, which was also influenced by abuse Cox experienced as a child, “kids would put cigarettes out on me.”


The US album cover artwork originates from a painting discovered by Cox in a medical journal found in a thrift store. The artwork is of a doctor treating an ill boy, while the boy’s mother looks on with concern. The painting was photographed by Cox, which resulted in the obscuring of the boy’s facial expression, due to the flash of the camera. Cox maintains this “kind of took away from the photo, because the look on his face is the most melancholy thing. He's the saddest boy, and he's lovesick and emaciated. But somehow I found that romantic, the idea that there was so much emotion in the face that it got whited out.”

The European album cover artwork was created by "longtime 4AD-affiliated graphic designers v23". [cite web|title=4AD Reveal New Version of Atlas Sound's Blind|accessdate=2008-04-23|work=Pitchfork Media |url=http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/page/news/50084-4ad-reveal-new-version-of-atlas-sounds-iblindi]


On Metacritic, the album has received an average critic score of 81%, based on 23 reviews, thus giving it the "universal acclaim" tag. cite web|title=Atlas Sound: Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel|accessdate=2008-02-22|work=MetaCritic |url=http://www.metacritic.com/music/artists/atlassound/lettheblindleadthosewhocannotsee] Upon release, the album received Pitchfork Media's "Best New Music" accolade.

Marc Hogan of "Pitchfork Media" praises the album, saying "as with each of Cox's projects, "Let the Blind" works best as a swirling, disorienting whole, organizing traditionally abstract styles like graphic-design elements within his unifying vision until they communicate like good pop." Dominic Umile of "PopMatters" claimed the album's "lovesickness and confessions, however, are as tenderly delivered as its hazy atmospherics are, and in their bare authenticity, are far more compelling in repeat indulgences than Deerhunter’s explorations." "Delusions of Adequacy" music critic Bryan Sanchez heavily praised the album writing, "the music married to these wonderful lyrics is touching, gorgeous and stunning and there is no doubt in my mind that Atlas Sound has created, arguably, the best album of the year" and sub sequentially praised Cox's deep and emotional songwriting and themes, "this is a special album, a headphone-rewarding listen that is filled with sad, depressing stories and that all reveal an inner look to Cox’ unique and interesting life."

"Tiny Mix Tapes" rewarded the album 4-out-of-5 stars saying, "each song has a distinctive quality that stands on its own. However, when you back away from the album as a whole, you begin to see that all these individual elements unify to make a greater holistic product." "Alternative Press" has gone far as to compare the album to My Bloody Valentine's classic 1991 shoegaze album "Loveless", writing that "Cox projects an otherworldly allure in his atmospheres and melodies that recall My Blood Valentine's recasting of rock as sound that prioritizes erotic texture and swoon-worthy levitation."

One of the very few negative reviews towards the album were from "Slant Magazine" writer Wilson McBee who puts, "the psychiatric exercise of creating the album may have done him some good, but fans of Deerhunter's transcendent rock will have to wait for the band's next album if they want the kind of catharsis that is only hinted at here." Another negative review was from American magazine "Under the Radar" who wrote that, "at times, it's as moody and transporting as great film music, but, far too often, these songs never materialize into anything more substantial than vapor."

Track listing

# "A Ghost Story" – 2:44
# "Recent Bedroom" – 3:46
# "River Card" – 3:20
# "Quarantined" – 4:20
# "On Guard" – 3:40
# "Winter Vacation" – 4:00
# "Cold As Ice" – 3:33
# "Scraping Past" – 4:30
# "Small Horror" – 2:54
# "Ready, Set, Glow" – 2:58
# "Bite Marks" – 4:18
# "After Class" – 3:29
# "Ativan" – 2:51
# "Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel" – 3:45

European Edition Bonus Disc

# "Another Bedroom"
# "It Rained"
# "Stained Glass Swan"
# "The Abandoned Closet"
# "Spring Break"
# "ABC Glasgow"


*Bradford Cox - recording, mixing
*Brian Foote - mixing
*Bob Weston - mastering
*Lockett Pundt - guitar loop used for "Cold As Ice"


External links

* [http://www.myspace.com/bradfordcox Atlas Sound MySpace]

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