Reviews, profiles and news about music in Chicago

Preview: Isolée (live), Frankie Vega vs Sevron, Quadratic (live)/Empty Bottle

DJ, Electronic/Dance, House, IDM, Microhouse, Techno No Comments »



Through gently twinkling melodies and subtle machine beats, German microhouse innovator Rajko Müller, aka Isolée, possesses a rare talent in finding that illusive soul in the machine—the warmth and depth and emotion that is inexplicably a greater sum than the whole of its whirring, clicking, robotic parts (as evidenced by his early release on Playhouse, a sublime remix of Blaze’s house classic “Lovelee Dae”). His debut album “Rest” would follow in 2000, tent-poled by his previously released breakthrough track “Beau Mot Plage” and the eerie “I Owe You.” But only a mere smattering of releases would follow until 2005 with the unveiling of “We Are Monster,” which showcased a greater range, from the post-apocalyptic soundtrack feel of opener “Pictureloved,” to the classic R&B-infused riffing and twisted Americana of “Schrapnell.” Fast-forwarding to 2010, Isolée has remained active on the remix front with unexpected gold found from retreads of French next-big-thing the Shoes, and Ed Banger’s resident disco freak Mickey Moonlight. And while the latter showcases an incredible juxtaposition of off-kilter bending piano notes and warbled bliss with vocals, we wouldn’t expect to hear it, as Isolée is performing a rare live set—his first in Chicago since 2005—in support of his latest release on Dial, “The Fantastic Researches Of Yushin Maru.” But with an upcoming full-length on DJ Koze’s Pampa label set for January 21, Chicago fans will likely be treated to a preview of this much-anticipated release. Strong local support is also lined up for the night, with a live performance from Quadratic and the debut tag-team DJ appearance of techno stalwart Frankie Vega and underground makeparty machine Sevron. And just to make sure all of your senses are immersed in the evening, live visuals will be provided by video artist Kawa. File Under: Do Not Miss. (Duke Shin)

December 2 at Empty Bottle, 1035 North Western, (773)276-3600. 9:30pm. $10.

Preview: Lady Miss Kier/Metro

Acid, Disco, DJ, Downtempo, Drum 'n' Bass, Dubstep, Electro, Electronic/Dance, Experimental, House, Microhouse, Soul, Techno, World Music No Comments »


Freakeasy’s two-year run in the underground loft scene is over but the vibe lives on in a post-Thanksgiving soiree at Metro that features Deee-lite’s former songstress, Lady Miss Kier. The Freakeasy 2nd Anniversary Freakin’ Ball celebrates the continued tenure of the fabled Freakeasy initiative and rumor has it this won’t be the last time it visits Metro. Expect the finest underground sounds from the illmeasures DJs, including Striz and Justin Reed, a live set from Brad Miner, Radiohiro and MC Zulu. Additional highlights include live art installations around the venue to complement the musical performances. Presale tickets are available at (John Alex Colón)

November 26 at Metro, 3730 North Clark, (773)549-4140. 8pm. Tickets $20-$30. 18+.

Spin Control: Montreal meets Chicago with Avant Mutek

DJ, Dubstep, Electro, Electronic/Dance, House, Microhouse, Techno No Comments »


Montreal-based non-profit electronic arts organization MUTEK has enjoyed tremendous growth in its eleven years of operation. What began as a modest and very small-scale performance showcase aimed at a niche market of experimental-music enthusiasts, new-media artists and audiophiles has grown into a globally recognized tour de force. With tremendous contributions to Canada’s sound and visual arts, MUTEK presents the premier cutting-edge electronic-music and arts festival in North America, respected for its avant-garde programming, innovative visual artistry and its many educational panels and workshops. MUTEK now throws several editions of its festival on multiple continents, operates its own record label and promotes its core roster of artists on tours around the world.

A preview of the Montreal festival’s eleventh edition, “Avant Mutek,” is making a tour stop in Chicago for the first time. Headlining are two fantastic artists known for their engaging live performances and their contributions to the evolution of experimental house music. Legendary Montreal producer/DJ Akufen of Perlon fame and Musique Risqueé mainstay Stephen Beaupré will perform at Green Dolphin Street, along with a diverse lineup of local DJs: Leo123 of Dark Party, Meiotic’s Hernan Sanchez and Fear of Music’s Jeff Pietro. Read the rest of this entry »

Field Studies: Axel Willner offers the sublime “Yesterday and Today”

Electronic/Dance, Microhouse, Techno No Comments »

By Tom Lynchfoals-remix-the-field

Axel Willner, the Swedish musician who releases as The Field, offered “From Here We Go Sublime” in 2007, a virtual masterpiece of minimal microhouse and ambient techno, a pulsing, cosmic hymn that sways and drifts and offers new discoveries with each listen, even two years down the road.

“Yesterday and Today” is Willner’s follow-up, again on Kompakt, a full-length record of only six tracks. (Three of the songs each top out at more than ten minutes in length.) Willner again mixes in live elements—including an appearance by Battles drummer John Stainer Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: The Field

DJ, Microhouse, Techno No Comments »


Kompakt, the techno juggernaut of Germany, uncovered the impressive skills of Swedish artist Axel Willner and ended up with a slew of well-received tracks, and the renowned full-length, “From Here We Go Sublime.” Willner records and performs as The Field, and after an airport snafu that caused his noticeable absence at the 2008 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, is undoubtedly eager to drop his brand of science on Chicago. Willner chops up pop music, stretches time signatures and vocals, all while using the elements of ambient and techno that induce the bodyrock. Samples beware; Stockholm’s Willner is on the hunt for you, ready to enhance his findings with bass and rhythmic bursts of static. (John Alex Colon)

The Field drops in at Sonotheque, 1444 West Chicago, (312)267-7600, on June 2, 9pm-2am. $12.