Irreversible Entanglements was formed for an event commemorating the killing of Akil Gurley by the NYPD back in 2015, and that urgent spark has ignited into a blaze as state violence against black bodies has not just sustained brazenness but given way to near-giddy expressions of hate from America’s chief executive down to the clammy-handed white supremacist in a polo. The group’s improvisation and poetry harkens back to the genesis of free jazz as radical, revolutionary fire music. Their performance can drain all the blood from your skin.
Irreversible Entanglements is comprises series of radical musicians in their own right. The founding trio was Camae Ayewa, recording in the black power electronics solo project Moor Mother and in a fantastic collab with DJ Haram called 700 Bliss; Luke Stewart, who is one of the finest bass players in America currently; and fearsome sax player Keir Neuringer, who has been affiliated with the likes of Dutch group Ensemble Klang and Dromedaries. Irreversible Entanglements put out an album on International Anthem last year and it’s really great.
Ah, the master. It’s really easy to piss off a man in a baseball cap and/or holding a BFA in composition by saying Suzanne Ciani is a better Buchla player than Morton Subotnick, but look at her do it! We really are lucky that SC was drawn back to the synthesizer after years crunching away at the piano’s dizzying arithmetic. She edged closer to Western melody for so many years that she devoted her talents to it exclusively, only to be yanked back by banana cables’ short drag. Another way to put it is that her music has such lucid compositional intent, rare in all-synthesizer work.
Suzanne Ciani’s only contemporary recording that has been released so far is a fantastic collaboration with Kaitlin Aurelia Smith, and if you enjoy the video above you should absolutely check out live recordings of hers from 1975 released a couple of years ago. But if you want the most heavenly Ciani, listen to Seven Waves and Velocityof Love back to back, on loop, all day.
Stunning synth drone brimming with tension from Kaori Suzuki. The Oakland artist deals in that timeless style of modular synth work surveying that puzzling area between overtones. It reconfigures how sound works in spaces, like rooms or grey substrate between ears. When tones are so often means to an end, it’s always remarkable when an artist so deftly concentrates on just a few.
Suzuki builds synths as well as playing them, and founded the synth company Magic Echo Music. They made a really neat device to let a computer control a Serge synthesizer, that legendary synth system designed by a mad genius professor at Cal Arts in the 70s.
Smokin’ post-post-Kraftwerk beatdowns from one half of Chicago’s gonzo noise rock /electroterror duo King Tuts Tomb. Kurt Vise has been the relatively recent solo project where Kenny Klemeir dives into some quantized groovin’ over the course of these sets where elements like bass lines, drum machine patterns, and synths blend into each other endlessly. Truly the man machine at work. Very Deutsche.
Kurt Vise might now be known more often as KV, but be sure to check out the tape that he put out on Potions‘ Pretty Alright label last year. Kenny also played on Jake Acosta’s stellar tape on that very label, First Corridor.
Sick Llama is maybe the best noise solo act in America? The best noise comes from Detroit, and Sick Llama may just be the best classic noise jammer jamming in Detroit. Especially the past few years, Sick Llama sets have often veered out of harsh territory into the deep, heavy, and incredibly psychedelic. This video provides a really good example of where he’s at, with plenty of broken tape loops, fried manipulations of synth recordings, and, of course, the clarinet.
Heath Moerland is also proprietor of the soon-to-be-finito Fag Tapes label (once it hits 1000 releases, sometime soon apparently). He is also a purveyor of all sorts of merchandise brandishing the truly excellent graphic that goes “Music is a Natural High.” Sure is.
This was video was recorded by Erica Mei Gamble at an edition of the Resonance Series, booked by Ben Baker Billington and Sullivan Roger Davis.
In a city with one of the most richest active jazz traditions alongside one of America’s most vibrant avant music scenes, a band like ADT may be inevitable. Chicago’s a place where various lines are always intersecting, where sounds and ideas float around and mutate rapidly, resulting in this hodge podge group of free jazz, noise, and pop musicians making the deepest, psych burner free music imaginable. So yeah, ADT’s occurrence in Chicago makes a lot of sense, but their excellence is not a foregone conclusion.
And fuck are they good. They consistently rip at just about any gig they show up at, and this set at The Hideout acts as something of a showcase of all the little niches they have developed over the years. The band’s own Kyle Drouin worked the projections throughout the set. This recording was taken just this past weekend at the record release show for the band’s new album Insecurities on Hausu Mountain. It’s a really really good album, and pretty stunning on account of the fact that the band improvised all of those intricate, melodic compositions on the spot.
This video was shot by Erica Gamble at a show organized by Doug Kaplan.
Incredibly on techno set from Smart Bar’s newish Research & Development series, bringing artists who are a little more explicitly weird or underground in for free Thursday shows. This particular Opheliaxz set is that rare blend of jubilant vibes and super hard techno. So many DJs seem to skew dark when it comes to techno this aggressive, but it just doesn’t have to be that way!
Opheliaxz has also put out some really choice mixes recently through the c- label on Soundcloud. Kelsey Knots, the real name behind Opheliaxz, is also integral to the Terry Radio crew, and therefore involved with some of the best radio on the internet.
Austin, TX’s More Eaze is a musician full of surprises, with work sprawling across blissed out glitch electronics, spiderwebbed pop, and restrained collage work. And as you’d expect from someone covering all this ground, More Eaze puts out a lot. 2017 saw new pieces of work released on labels including Orange Milk and Astral Spirits.
This set from earlier last year is simple in scope, yet incredibly effective in execution. ME does a tight 10 minutes, full of playfulness and climaxing for just as long as needed. This set includes a drummer, who is there for flourishes and color as much as anything else.
Here we have an absolutely killer techno set. Saw this one live in the flesh here in Chicago and I was pretty floored, especially given the probability of seeing a totally meh techno set in a big pseudo-warehouse space with concrete floors. ADAB hails from Cleveland and helps organize the Heaven is in You party at Now That’s Class, very likely a party worth checking out if you’re in the good old CLE. The party put together a comp a couple of years back that has some real Cleveland heavy hitter on it, like Forest Management and Glacial 23.
The Neon Falls party is pretty excellent! It’s organized by dynamic duo Glenna Fitch who DJs as SOLD and Alex Bond, who has been spinning recently as Hi-Vis. This incarnation was especially primo, and it’ll be very exciting to see how the party continues to develop in its second year.
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.