Reviews, profiles and news about music in Chicago

Preview: Hocico/Beat Kitchen

EDM, Electronic/Dance, Industrial No Comments »

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RECOMMENDED

Formed by creepster cousins Erik Garcia and Oscar Mayorga in Mexico City at the peak of the harsh electronica rise in the oh-so-delightfully abysmal nineties, Hocico (pronounced O-see-ko) has endured and evolved where many other bands of its particular penchant for visceral and ethereal industrial and EBM have faded.
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Liz Phair, Steve Albini & Me: The True Story of 1993, the Greatest Goddamn Year in Chicago Rock History

Alt-Rock, Chicago Artists, Folk-rock, Funk, Garage Rock, Hip-Hop, Indie Rock, Industrial, New Wave, Post-punk, Prog-rock, Rock 6 Comments »
Liz Phair 1993/Photo: Lloyd DeGrane

Liz Phair 1993/Photo: Lloyd DeGrane

By Bill Wyman

Every few years, it comes back.

Back in 1994, I had a weekly music column called “Hitsville” in The Chicago Reader. In early January of that year, I put together a top-ten list of albums from 1993 with an accompanying essay. It was all maybe 700 words. Strikingly, two entries by Chicago acts—Liz Phair’s debut, “Exile in Guyville,” and Urge Overkill’s first record for Geffen, “Saturation”—topped my list.

Steve Albini, then as now, was an iconoclastic music producer on the underground rock scene. He was pissed off by the piece; and in full dyspeptic mode he sent a letter to the paper. It was printed under the headline, “Three Pandering Sluts and their Music Press Stooge.”

The pandering sluts—his words—were the two acts I just mentioned and another Chicago outfit, the Smashing Pumpkins.

I was the stooge!

The letter was long and vituperative and hilarious: “You only think they are noteworthy now because some paid publicist has told you they are, and you, fulfilling your obligation as part of the publicity engine that drives the music industry, spurt about them on cue.”

Back then, the Reader was a huge institution. The paper came out on Thursday, stacked like bricks in walls three-feet high in stores and cafes. “Hitsville” was on the front page of Section Three. Albini’s little missive set off a letters war of seemingly unending scorn and heat that played out week after week in the paper, with rafts of responses, insults, counter-responses and counter-counter-responses.

In later years, after the Internet took hold, the letter was endlessly cited in adoring profiles of Albini, or histories of the Chicago music scene of the time. Ten years later, Ana Marie Cox wrote a hefty piece about it for the Reader itself, and just a few weeks ago—twenty-two years later!—the Reader’s music editor, Philip Montoro, brought it all up again amid news that the Pumpkins and Phair were going out on the road together. (They’re playing the Civic Opera House April 14.). Albini’s letter, he said, had torn me a new orifice. And he concurred with Albini’s judgment that I was there to promote popular bands: “Like many music writers, Wyman clearly considered the size of his potential audience when deciding which artists to cover.”

On examination, I was grateful to se that I had the requisite number of orifices, but even so, Montoro’s column got me feeling all misty. I started to remember what the scene was like back then. Read the rest of this entry »

Live Review: Factory Floor/Pitchfork Music Festival

Festivals, Industrial, Live Reviews No Comments »

 

Photo: Robert Loerzel

Photo: Robert Loerzel

After the pleasant (but a bit too gentle for my tastes) electronica of Hundred Waters, Factory Floor was a dance-ready counterpoint, delivering a forty-five minute, stage-banter-free set of throwback industrial, layered with relentlessly throbbing bass, live drums and Nik Colk Void’s distorted, indecipherable vocals. For anyone even peripherally familiar with industrial, Factory Floor doesn’t do much to reinvent the wheel here, but they certainly get the job done for anyone eager to dance, even though much of the enthusiastic crowd didn’t quite seem ready. By the end of the set, however, at least two crowd-surfers and one line of synchronized dancers got into the mood, sunshine be damned. (Keidra Chaney)

Preview: Wax Trax! Records Pop-Up Store/Metro

Chicago Artists, Industrial, Punk No Comments »

RECOMMENDEDWax Trax Pop-Up Metro

Wax Trax! Records was the center of the universe for a generation of punk and industrial kids in Chicago and beyond, so this is pretty thrilling news: on June 15, Chicago will have an opportunity to relive the glory days of the early 1980s to mid-nineties at the Wax Trax! Records pop-up retail shop at the Metro. For one day only, Wax Trax! will open up its archive of original releases, posters, t-shirts and other rare treats, with a roster of DJs and a full-service bar. Read the rest of this entry »

Record Review: “Blank Project” by Neneh Cherry

Dance Pop, Drum 'n' Bass, Electronic/Dance, Experimental, Industrial, Pop, R&B, Record Reviews, Soul, Techno, World Music No Comments »

RECOMMENDEDnenehcherry

Is “Blank Project” a jazz, soul, art or pop album?  Listening to the disc attentively one could easily say all of the above, as the Swedish-born singer Neneh Cherry (known by mainstream music fans for her collaboration with Senegalese star Youssou N’ Dour) does her thing on her first solo release since 1996. Backed solely by Four Tet’s mix of percussion and electronic sounds, the music grabs you from the beginning with the Afro-inspired “Across The Water” and doesn’t let go until the very last track. Read the rest of this entry »

Escape from Noise: Is This Not Music?

Chicago Artists, Experimental, Industrial, Minimalism 2 Comments »

The Haters, headed by GX Jupitter-Larsen at the 2010 noise fest Neon Marshmallow

By Arvo Zylo

The sound man looks nervous and angry as he shakes his head. He’s red-faced and gazing down at a tangled pile of guitar cables drenched in a puddle on the floor.  A man in a furry lizard costume is in the back of the room, freaking out with his guitar; another man is up front in a white Eskimo coat that’s smeared brown with blood. He’s peeking out from under his hood, messing around in a suitcase full of electronics. A woman runs around with the skin of a pig’s head over her face, smacking people across the kisser with meat. Blood flies everywhere. Another guy in a bloody white shirt is kneeling, bouncing a cymbal off of the floor over and over. He looks like he’s in his own little world. A man in a makeshift leather executioner’s outfit is swinging a bullwhip at me. It smells like a slaughterhouse. This is Cock E.S.P., and this is one extraordinary example of a noise performance. Read the rest of this entry »

Cut Ups: The post-gender Genesis Breyer P-Orridge’s Psychic TV lands at Reggies Rock Club

Electro, Experimental, Industrial, Psychedelic, Punk No Comments »

Photo: Perou

By Arvo Zylo

The first thing to know about lead musician Genesis Breyer P-Orridge is that s/he (the preferred non-gender identification) is a combination of two people who address themselves as “we.” Breyer P-Orridge had a longstanding, fruitful and intimate relationship with a woman named Lady Jaye. In search of a way to consummate their love for each other and unsatisfied with simply saying “till death do us part,” they wanted to actually consume one another. And, in essence, they did. They went to plastic surgeons and exchanged each other’s skin, made each other’s cheekbones look alike, got breast implants for the same size cup, and so forth. Since Lady Jaye passed on from stomach cancer in 2007, Breyer P-Orridge considers h/erself an embodiment of both people, and to some extent, a connection to Lady Jaye’s place on the other side. Breyer P-Orridge and Lady Jaye called their project “Pandrogyne,” and part of the intent was to transcend the trappings of the body and to nullify the concept of gender. Some people consider themselves to be a man stuck inside of a woman’s body, or a woman stuck inside of a man’s body, but to Genesis, s/he is simply “stuck in a body.” It’s not transgender as much as it is post-gender. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Rephlex Records 20-Year Anniversary/Jay Pritzker Pavilion

Acid, Dubstep, Electronic/Dance, Glitch, House, IDM, Industrial No Comments »

RECOMMENDED

Electric Picnics at Millennium Park have been going swimmingly this summer. Who knew that a little bit of twitch with your ham sandwich could be so enjoyable? Helping to round off the summer series is a celebration for the twentieth anniversary of Rephlex Records. Richard D. James, better known as Aphex Twin and the founder of the label, has been lying low for the past few years. While he hasn’t released anything personally, his label has been churning out records from other artists, including Squarepusher and Kevin Martin. Rephlex must be feeling extra celebratory, as they’re having a party for each decade that it has been around: one at Pritzker Pavilion and the other at the Empty Bottle. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Moldover/Darkroom

Chicago Artists, DJ, Electro, Electronic/Dance, Experimental, House, Industrial, Metal, Noise, Prog-rock, Punk, Techno No Comments »

RECOMMENDED

Simultaneously garnering props from music industry hotshots and technology aficionados, Moldover’s 2009 debut album was more than an Internet flashpoint, it fostered the growth of a paradigm shift in live electronic stage acts: controllerism. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of a dysfunctional MacBook, Moldover’s work catapults the stoic, laptop-based events of years past into a new era of rockstar idolatry, with the software controller in the driver’s seat. An unmistakable rock influence pervades his musical efforts, which deftly run the gamut from rapid, techno-fused breakbeats to glitch-inspired funk. Moldover will be supported by the DJ skills of Chicago favorites Striz, Magpie and Duke Shin. (John Alex Colón)

March 11 at Darkroom, 2210 West Chicago, 9pm, free before 10pm, $6 after.

Preview: Meat Beat Manifesto/Bottom Lounge

Electronic/Dance, Industrial No Comments »

RECOMMENDED

While more and more new musicians are colonizing the territory of hauntological music, few can summon the actual creepiness of Meat Beat Manifesto’s fringe electronic work. For twenty years, MBM has been releasing records that meld industrial, trip hop, jungle and dub sounds into a disorienting mind-trip. Their 1998 opus, “Actual Sounds and Voices,” named for the many found audio clips that accent its gnarled, house-cum-free-jazz symphonies, probably produced the act’s most recognizable track, “Prime Audio Soup,” which made an appearance in the soundtrack to the mega-millions-grossing “The Matrix.” MBM stalwart Jack Dangers puts together another excellent walk on the dark side of aurality in his most recent, 2010’s “Answers Come in Dreams,” which, as the name suggests, pushes even further into the subliminal basements of sound. Piecing together sci-fi frequency tweaking, seismic dub tremors, industrial beat-making and swirls of concrète (sic) sounds into a sonically verbose machine which somehow manages to move; one can even imagine dancing to this, although what grisly shape that danse macabre might take is a mystery to me. (David Wicik)

February 16 at Bottom Lounge, 1375 West Lake, (312)666-6775, 9pm. $18. $17+.