From track to track, it’d be difficult to deduce which Lightning Bolt long-player one’s listening to. But with the drums-bass setup, that’s unsurprising. What is out of the ordinary is the ruckus drummer Brian Chippendale and basser Brian Gibson are able to summon from their pair of instruments. Beginning as a Rhode Island School of Design project and branching out to international van dwellers, Lightning Bolt’s sub-terra popularity followed the broader emergence of a self-sufficient noise scene, replete with low-rent tape releases and enough DIY venues to support a torrid touring schedule. Making it through the nineties allowed Lightning Bolt to land bigger shows (relatively) alongside acts drawing in fans with a more traditional taste in songcraft—the duo’s even performed at the Pitchfork Festival. What the RI band is able to achieve—and it’s something Lou Reed pretended he did on “Metal Machine Music”—is raving up an intense hive of noise, with Gibson’s augmented bass relieving some tension with momentary melodies. Of course, every groove Lightning Bolt dispenses is an ethereal thing, only lasting long enough for the Brians to figure out how to jump to their next lizard brain concoction. “30,000 Monkies,” from the group’s 2003 “Wonderful Rainbow,” opens with a mathy flutter of bass, supported by some free-drumming and incorporating as many rhythmic variations on that circular low-end flailing as possible. Just as the figure becomes constant enough to move a body, the drums drop out, leaving Gibson to continue exploring the octaval realities of what he’s been playing. Eventually, Chippendale kicks in again and the pair fly off into expressionistic revelry. For as difficult a listen as Lightning Bolt can be, paying close enough attention can reveal musicians utterly entangled in each other’s craft—it’s a rare thing and not to be missed. Chicago’s noisy Guzzlemug opens. (Dave Cantor)
September 15 at Empty Bottle, 1035 North Western, (773)276-3600, 10pm. $12.