Reviews, profiles and news about music in Chicago

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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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+.

Preview: Ben Frost/Chicago Cultural Center (Sónar)

Electronic/Dance, Experimental, Festivals, Glitch, IDM, Industrial, Metal, Metalcore, Noise No Comments »


Listening to Ben Frost’s “Theory of Machines” (Bedroom Community), it’s difficult to concur with the categorization of “post-minimalism.” His compositions fly in the face of any label, at once gorgeous and terrifying. Certainly electronic music in the experimental vein, Frost’s work seems to interpret the would-be sounds of a blissful void, shockingly interrupted by the overwhelming sounds of pain. Imagine the backdrop of Loscil and Brian Eno pierced by the industrial tendencies of Trent Reznor and you might come close to Ben Frost’s sound. Felt as much as heard, his music elicits the feelings of fear and loneliness reserved for horror-film scores and thunderstorms, amplified by guitar-shredding and haunting vocal samples. Frost appears as part of the internationally acclaimed music and multimedia art festival, Sónar, which visits Chicago from Barcelona for the first time. (John Alex Colón)

September 11 at Chicago Cultural Center, 78 East Washington, (312)744-6630. 6pm. Free. Limited capacity.

Preview: Summer Sounds—Gard(en)Counter/Art Institute of Chicago

Chicago Artists, Disco, DJ, Electronic/Dance, Hip-Hop, House, IDM, Indie Pop, Indie Rock, Industrial, Post-punk, Post-Rock, Punk, Rock, Shoegaze, Space Pop No Comments »

Kid Color


The Art Institute of Chicago’s sleek, pristine Modern Wing is hosting the current Sound & Vision exhibit, which aims to explore “the symbiotic relationship between art and music, presenting humorous yet rigorous investigations in which the two do not connect in any synesthetic sense but rather come together via acts of transposition…” To this effect, the Art Institute, in conjunction with Metro/Smart Bar, present Gard(en)Counter, featuring Metro/Smart Bar in-house DJs Nate Manic, Bald E. and Kid Color, who’ll provide the gift of sound spanning 1982 to present day. As for the vision, we’re sure the multimedia exhibits and installations will fit perfectly like “blue, blue, electric blue.” (Duke Shin)

July 30, Pritzker Garden/Griffin Court at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 South Michigan, (877)307-4242, 9pm-midnight, $8/$10.

Preview: Nitzer Ebb/Double Door

DJ, Electronic/Dance, Experimental, Industrial, Rock No Comments »


Industrial electronic act Nitzer Ebb takes the stage at the Double Door, headlining a raucous showcase sure to keep your feet moving and your fists in the air. Having gone through several roster changes since the group’s inception in the early 1980s, the current Nitzer Ebb lineup finds itself in the middle of a grueling, month-long, twenty-four-city North American tour. The Mute/NovaMute artists have recorded some new material in 2009, which we will hopefully get to hear this night, along with some Nitzer Ebb classics. “Joining the chant” as Nitzer Ebb’s opener is Chicago’s own Kill Memory Crash. The Ghostly band’s blend of rock, electro, techno and industrial sounds should add plenty of fuel to the party fire. Also featured is local rock-tronica group, The Glide, and a live set from Polyfuse (aka Justin McGrath). Last, and certainly not least, you’ll be treated to a DJ set of IDM, ghetto tech, glitch and breakcore from DJ Tacopunch. (Elly Rifkin)

November 28 at Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, (773)489-3160, 9pm. $25.

Preview: Throbbing Gristle/Logan Square Auditorium

Experimental, Industrial, Rock No Comments »


The legendary British industrial crew—which made its mark in the late seventies and early eighties with its experimental, often confrontational live performances—reunited in 2004 and now makes a few stops in the United States, including these four shows at Logan Square Auditorium. This is a rare opportunity to see in the flesh a living document of British musical anarchy of another era, and really shouldn’t be missed, as long as you have an interest in pulsing, somewhat improvisational noise and a strong stomach, as the visual imagery the band has used to accompany its performances has been known in the past to be quite challenging. (Think pornography, footage from Nazi camps, more pornography.) The band never claimed it was making accessible, aimed-to-please rock music. Thematically exploring the darker aspects of human existence, Throbbing Gristle creates a daring and bleak dystopia. Sounds like a fantastic time, doesn’t it? If you’d like a taste, the band’s 1979 record “20 Jazz Funk Greats”—a hilariously sarcastic title—is its best. (Tom Lynch)

Throbbing Gristle plays April 25-26 at Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, (773)509-5019, at 7pm & 10pm both nights. $20-$50.

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