You could have caught me back in 2013 trashing Eurorack culture (especially at that inevitable moment in the middle of the 6-hour long module demo set when some switch was flipped and the 4/4 kick started) and I’ll be damned if you still do not want to get me started on it today.* But sometimes you actually see a damn musician use one of these things and it’s pretty fucking magnificent.
Here we have beloved Chicago scene presence Tim Nordberg presenting a smokin’ hot modular synth composition under his Wish Fulfillment project. Tons of open space that wonderful tension between slow, wistful melody and machine freaking. Kinda one of those you’ll just have to listen to it sets, so go for it. TN was involved with the Rubicon space down in Pilsen while it was open, and is often seen around town working sound and making other people’s DJ sets pop.
This video was shot by Erica Mei Gamble at a show organized by Ben Baker Billington.
*If you want to get me started, get in the Cafe Chat.
Fire-Toolz is a lot of things: vaporwaved nü metal, bionic id, industrial jazz fusion, a reliable source for videos of a CGI baby going in and out of a womb. It’s also the most fully conceived project from the hyper prolific Angel Marcloid, formerly Pregnant Spore and proprietor of the Rainbow Bridge label. Fire-Toolz sets and albums are equally high-production-value affairs, with a savvy sense of structure and more stimulation than an audience could possibly ever crave.
This video is from the Fire-Toolz album release show at the Empty Bottle, for the tape Interbeing. It came out right around the same time as a new release by AM’s vaporwave project ᴡ ᴇ в s ɪ ᴛ ᴇ ツ and precedes another Fire-Toolz LP coming out later this year, which itself follows an Angelwings Marmalade release. Additionally, Suite 309 just put a Fire–Toolz remix tape.
This video was shot by Erica Gamble.
Jazz, baby! Inclusions has an interesting take on free jazz, in line with the compositional strain of the genre that was really Ornette Coleman’s wizardly innovation. No free funk here though, just beautifully structured post-post-post-post-bop blessed with savvy Sun Ra influence, melody, and bursts of atonality. Where’s the album, guys?
Inclusions features two members of ADT — Carlos Chavarria on sax, Adam Tramposh on keys — plus Scott Dunkerly on drums and Jeff Wheeler on baritone guitar.
The video was shot by Erica Gamble at show organized by Jeff Wheeler.
You see a lot of things going to experimental shows, but string quartet is rarely one of them. Andrew Scott Young, consummate bass virtuoso, has assembled this group to perform his own compositions and they are admittedly is best experienced in the flesh. That’s when you really feel those vibrations agitating the air and worm through your body. But, honestly, this video still rules.
The ensemble can change around a bit, but this one includes Hanna Brock, Kimberly Sutton, and Ike Floor. ASY plays in Tiger Hatchery (supposedly working on a new album, potentially for ESP-Disk again) and has put in stints with Circuits de Yeux, Riley Walker, and Mines. Plus a bunch of other stuff.
The video was shot at by Erica Gamble at an entry in the Resonance Series organized by Ben Baker Billington and Sullivan Roger Davis.
Olivia Block is hands down one of the best current composers to cut her teeth in the underground scene, and her recent space- and structure-oriented work over the past few years has been a really exciting channeling of her talents. This performance was incredible. OB filled this chapel on University of Chicago’s campus with sustained organ tones and pre-recorded drones, causes hundreds or little pockets of new resonances to take shape. Laying on the altar and blissing out gave you different music than sitting in the pews, or standing under an arch, and so on. Really special stuff.
Olivia Block keeps the release schedule pretty steady, and put out a self-titled album on Another Timbre later last year. OB’s 2015 cassette on NNA is especially choice, if you need a recommendation.
This video was shot by Erica Gamble at an event put together by LAMPO.
Jesus Christ Fran is good. For a while it seemed like the chokehold pop punk and the emo revival had on the underground rock scene would never relent, but it seems like things are starting to change. Fran’s songs are catchy and complex, a little strange, bringing to mind the side of the fork in the road of ’90s alt rock that didn’t lead to Creed. I’ve heard the Aimee Mann comparison a lot with Fran, but I’m hearing more Paula Cole. Oh man, and Maria Jacobson’s voice is wild. It had the entire Empty Bottle rapt during those register leaps at Fran’s EP release show.
Speaking of EP, the band’s debut on Lake Paradise is really good. Just five songs, all of them basically ear worms. Wow.
Not sure who shot this video or who set up the show.
If ever their were a man who knows the definition of “groovin'” it’s Tom Owens. Potions sets will keep you wiggling forever and ever, like this dude’s whole existence revolves around booogying. I booked Potions for this show. It was his live set in many months and he kept insisting he was only going to play for 20 minutes. I said, alright, but you really could play for longer if you want to. He played for much longer than 20 minutes. It reminded me of the first time I saw Potions after moving to Chicago back in 2014, when he did seven separate encores.
Potions has some great tapes out on 100% Silk and Hausu Mountain, and DJs every now and again for the fantastic community radio station in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago, Lumpen Radio. TO also fronted Distractions for a long while, a band that many Chicagoans still talk of glowingly. Pretty sure he also lived at Ball Hall?
This video was shot by Erica Gamble.