Atlanta’s Deerhunter have an incredible, unbroken track record for critically acclaimed releases that can be attributed to their restless, compelling and ever-morphing creative evolution.
Since 2007’s noisy art-rock opus “Cryptograms,” Deerhunter — led by their eccentric, charismatic frontman Bradford Cox — have engaged fans with a challenging, yet infinitely rewarding string of albums that vary from experimental alien ambiance to 1960’s style pop melodies to distorted guitar freak-outs.
Their ceaseless creative spirits can’t be contained by the band alone and have spilled over into solo projects, including Cox’s "Atlas Sound," guitarist Lockett Pundt’s "Lotus Plaza," and drummer Moses Archuleta’s "Moon Diagrams."
Deerhunter’s latest album, “Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?” (4AD Records), was born out of a burst of creative energy that developed in the artist hub of Marfa, Texas, when Cox was invited to perform solo at the Marfa Myths Festival.
Cox hung out with his close friend, Drag City recording artist Cate Le Bon, and invited her to produce the next Deerhunter album in Marfa. Le Bon’s dark, psychedelic pop sensibility helped the band focus and hone their sound into more direct songs.
“It just transpired into a consolidation of efforts and certain people were going to be in a place at the same time,” explains drummer Moses Archuleta. “She was heavily involved in the first 60 percent. We didn’t get to finish it together because of scheduling conflicts as the process went on longer than anticipated.”
Cate Le Bon had her own album to finish and Deerhunter needed to return home before completion.
“Rather than wait another year to finish the album, we realized for the lifespan or potency of the album material it was more important to try to finish it in 2018 than let it drag on,” says Archuleta. “We ended up having a fortuitous situation where Ben Allen (Grammy Award winning producer whose credits include Deerhunter’s 2010 album “Halcyon Digest”) was available just long enough for us to wrap up the album. The way it worked out was really great in the end. We got to work with a lot of really great people and it was an interesting blend of new and old stuff, in terms of approaches and personnel.”
The result is Deerhunter’s most refined and mature album to date.
“I think with age and experience comes a tendency towards things that are a little more — I think we want the songs to be more direct and upfront,” says Archuleta. “At the same time, we can’t help but have experimental, avant layers and approaches, and more subtle things going on. They’re both there, the focus is just a little different. As you spend more time with it, those odder aspects emerge gradually and sustain the lifespan of songs that may seemingly be about one or two immediate things.”
Press for the new album reflects on the reactionary nature of artist movements like DADA, punk, and hip-hop, and asks the question of what the popular music of today is a reaction to. Deerhunter can only speak for their own little corner of the music scene, but note that there is obviously plenty to react to today.
“Everything we make is a reaction to or a reflection of the current state of things,” says Archuleta. “We’re definitely not saying it’s anecdotal or that this is a thing that has emerged from a current state in time, if that makes sense. There definitely is a feeling of nervousness and unrest, on the precipice of something good or bad or both, but something intense is prevalent in the air lately.”
Deerhunter are known for their transcendent live shows, with the unpredictable and shaman-like stage presence of Cox, and the trenchant performances of the rest of the band. Even repeat audiences can expect a surprising and electrifying show.
Archuleta says that the best thing about touring is “figuring out new ways of exploring the material that is on the album in terms of live formations of songs.”
“It takes time and effort to reveal these nooks and crannies and these embellishments that can happen. It’s just something that happens when you play songs over and over, so I’m curious to see what songs reveal. That’s always it’s own organic process that happens on tour with new material.”
Other than a small house show over a decade ago, this will remarkably be the first time Deerhunter have really played Savannah.
“We’ve always had it on our mind and wanted to play [Savannah] and I don’t know why it’s taken this long for it to come together, but I’m glad that it’s happening now, finally,” says Archuleta.