I was poking around earlier today, and stumbled upon a bootleg live recording of Atlas Sound’s beautifully etheric “Quick Canal,” taken from their performance at Desert Daze last fall. Because the influential avant-pop pioneers Stereolab were also performing the same day, frontwoman Lætitia Sadier was on hand to lend vocals to their live rendition, just as she had on the song’s original recording back in 2009.
Of course, the 2019 edition of SoCal’s very groovy psychedelic music fest is the one time I opted not to go, probably because I had a bunch of other shit going on in my life that took precedent. After seeing this clip, though, I think I’m going to be kicking myself for a good long while. It’s not the most phenomenal recording. And besides Sadier, it’s just main man Bradford Cox and a guitarist/keyboardist, leaving a lot of open space on stage.
Despite the sparsity, I can just tell that if you were present, the vibe would’ve been truly transcendent, a once-in-a-lifetime moment which will probably go unrepeated, where all the players just happened to be in the same venue on the same day.
When she’s not touring with Stereolab or performing solo, Sadier’s typically overseas in the U.K. or her native France. Atlas Sound, which is Cox’s solo project away from his main gig leading indie rockers Deerhunter, doesn’t tour all that often. So to see the two come together for perhaps my favorite track from Cox’s diverse repertoire seems like bucket list material to me.
Anyway, I only realized today that this actually happened back in October. So I can’t be all too bent out of shape about it. Still, I probably should’ve forced myself to get my ass out to Lake Perris for the annual three day fest, especially considering that we won’t be seeing one this year, and maybe not the next either. Hindsight’s a bitch.
Back to Atlas Sound … “Quick Canal” is a standout from Cox’s catalogue of experimental art-based eclecticism, often embracing an avant-pop collage of electronics, acoustics, and neo-psychedelics. It’s too far off the beaten path to fit comfortably in his Deerhunter alter ego, so solo is where it resides. Except, in this case, he enlists the mercurial Sadier to contribute lyrics and vocals to his laid-back organ-weaving breeze of soft-spoken groove.
Sadier is really the aural ingredient that fuses it all together, an alluring sing-song glass-pitched tenor that weaves in and out of lucidity and decipherability, surfing along the reverberating sinewaves of a subdued feedback, as if it was the only way to be heard.
“Quick Canal” is essentially what happens if Stereolab’s retro-futurism took a step further towards modern electronics, and Atlas Sound’s experimentalism leaned fully into motorik pop. It’s an exotic combo that is a mesmerizing as it is serendipitous.
So to return to what originally inspired this post, knowing that I fully missed out on this exclusive and rare performance of a song I absolutely love, I can’t help but hold a little regret for a moment I probably should’ve attended. Oh well … sometimes the music gods don’t always clue me in on how the winds will fare.
That leaves me with the following Spotify embed of “Quick Canal” from Atlas Sound and Lætitia Sadier, and the oft and aforementioned 2019 Desert Daze live performance, presented here in handheld bootleg glory, courtesy of YouTube and the lucky bastard who was there to film it. I don’t know who that is, by the way. But count me envious.
Stay safe and enjoy!
“Quick Canal” from the 2009 album “Logos.”