Friday17Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition
Sunday19Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition
HAKIM, ALIM QASIMOV ENSEMBLE Billed as Dandana: A Celebration of Muslim Voices, this compelling double bill presents two very different kinds of music from the Islamic world. Headliner Hakim is one of Egypt's greatest singers of shaabi, or street pop, which combines traditional instruments and folkloric melodies with urban dance beats and a propulsive contemporary vocal style; it emerged in the late 60s, in part as a nationalistic response to the country's humiliating defeat by Israel in the Six-Day War. For much of the past decade, Hakim flirted with global success thanks to an affiliation with American producer Miles Copeland, who had him singing duets with everyone from James Brown to Latin pop diva Olga Tañon, but today he's once again without a Western label. Some of Hakim's music is disagreeably slick or driven by distractingly huge programmed beats, but his voice and his pop-star charisma can outshine the glossiest arrangements—and in his live shows he strips away much of the studio lacquer.
Singer Alim Qasimov is the preeminent exponent of mugham, an Azerbaijani classical form that generally involves three traditional instruments—a frame drum called the daf, a long-necked lute called the tar, and a spike fiddle called the kamancheh—and takes its lyrics from the work of the country's most beloved poets down through the centuries. Qasimov and his daughter Fargana, who also sings, are such remarkable improvisers that they all but transcend the form, which is partly why they've lately been heard so often in the company of admirers from the world of Western classical music, like Yo-Yo Ma and the Kronos Quartet. For last year's Rainbow (Smithsonian Folkways), jazz trombonist Jacob Garchik arranged traditional mugham music for a ten-piece ensemble that combined Kronos with Qasimov's sextet (which adds an oboe called the balaban and a drum called the naghara to the customary instrumentation). As superb as the results are, there's still nothing like hearing the Qasimovs' group on its own. —Peter Margasak Hakim headlines; the Alim Qasimov Ensemble opens. 6:30 PM, Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park.
RUDRESH MAHANTHAPPA'S INDO-PAK COALITION A few months ago, French label Plus Loin Music released Tasty!, a 2006 trio session by MSG—aka New York saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, Parisian drummer Chander Sardjoe, and Dublin bassist Ronan Guilfoyle. Even though it's one of Mahanthappa's less active groups, the music is as rigorous as everything he does, reflecting his multifaceted interests: the classical music of India, the rhythmically advanced concepts of New York's M-Base school, classic bebop. One of the pleasures of following an artist with a deep discography is tracing artistic through-lines, and in Mahanthappa's case they become clearer with each passing year. His ability to connect Indian music and bebop reaches its apex in the Indo-Pak Coalition, an improvising trio with guitarist Rez Abassi and tabla player Dan Weiss, both of whom share his fluent stylistic duality. On its lone album, 2008's Apti (Innova), the group expertly meshes jazz harmony and phrasing with complex Indian rhythmic cycles. —Peter Margasak See also Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. 8 and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, $20.
STINKING LIZAVETA This Philadelphia-based instrumental trio oozed amorphously across several genres and scenes in the late 90s, seeming equally at home—or equally out-of-place—at free-jazz shows, psychedelic shows, metal shows, posthardcore punk shows, and arty postrock shows. But people tend to congeal over time, at least a little bit, and Stinking Lizaveta have molded themselves into a tight, innovative progressive-metal unit—their thick, volcanic sound shapes well in the right hands, which in the case of their sixth album, Sacrifice and Bliss (At a Loss), turn out to belong to producer Sanford Parker. They spin their narratives almost entirely without vocals (Yanni Papadopoulos has a habit of shrieking into his guitar pickups, but I don't know if that counts), and Yanni's brother Alexi plays an upright electric bass that makes it easy for him to stay faithful to the classic walking-bass jazz sensibility—he gives drummer Cheshire Agusta lots to work with, and she does. The album feels longer than it is, not because it's tedious but because the band traverses such a long distance across its own soundscape. —Monica Kendrick Beak, Erode and Disappear, and American Draft open. 8 PM, Pancho's, $5.
LUKE VIBERT From its insufferably pretentious name to its decades-long case of advanced anhedonia, there's no modern genre as bloodless as "intelligent dance music." So it hurts to see that label applied to Luke Vibert. Like a bunch of other artists who came up in the 90s and got saddled with the IDM tag—Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Mu-ziq—Vibert strives to make electronic music that's more clever than trance techno but doesn't make you feel like you have to be wearing a black turtleneck and architect glasses to appreciate it. In the past he's done weird and highly entertaining things to drum 'n' bass, trip-hop, and acid house. His recent Ninja Tune album Toomorrow (released under his alias Wagon Christ, which is also how he's billed for this show) combines funky drum breaks, goofy samples from movies and TV, and rude sub-bass—it comes off like a updated incarnation of Steinski's mutant hip-hop. —Miles Raymer DJ Warp, DJ Striz, and Radiohiro open. 10 PM, Smart Bar, $15 after midnight, $13 before.
BEADY EYE Keeping in mind what a world-class dickhead Liam Gallagher is, it's hard to believe how long it took his brother Noel—the Gallagher who wrote most of Oasis's songs—to decide he'd had enough. He finally left for good in summer 2009, and the rest of the erstwhile Oasisans announced before the year ended that work had begun on their first album under the name Beady Eye. The finished product, Different Gear, Still Speeding (released in February on the band's own Beady Eye Records), has some bright spots, like the ripping "Bring the Light," but often it just sounds like a half-decent band who wish they were Oasis. —Miles Raymer The Dig opens. 8:30 PM, Metro, sold out.
SWERVEDRIVER The recent rising tide of shoegaze nostalgia has lifted all sorts of boats—My Bloody Valentine has overtaken Joy Division as underground rock's most frequently name-checked band, for instance, and an unexpected number of critics have gushed over the reissue of Astrobrite's obscure classic Crush. To severely stretch the metaphor, this tide has also inspired other boats to reunite after prolonged hiatuses, to the delight of what seem to be much larger fan bases than they enjoyed the first time around. Take Britain's Swervedriver. Their 1993 album, Mezcal Head (reissued by Sony in 2008), has long had a cult following among experimental-minded ax wielders thanks to guitarist Jimmy Hartridge and vocalist-guitarist Adam Franklin, who showed a heroic lack of restraint with effects pedals in making their walls of dissonant-yet-melodic sound. Judging by the amount of excitement the group encountered during their reunion set at Coachella in 2008, the "cult" tag no longer applies. —Miles Raymer Swervedriver headlines the first night of Taste of Randolph Street. Here We Go Magic, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, In Tall Buildings, Statues of Liberty, and Bandoleros open. 12:30 PM, Randolph between Peoria and Racine, $10.
TERRIBLE TWOS Terrible Twos (definitely not to be confused with the children's band of the same name) are torchbearers of a vital Motor City legacy, though you won't hear them in a Chrysler commercial anytime soon—numbers like "Chinky Glass Eye," "Crash the Circuit," and "Negative Drip" fit squarely into Detroit's lineage of postapocalyptic free-punk, which begins with "Black to Comm" by the MC5 and "LA Blues" by the Stooges, continues through turn-of-the-century noise like the Piranhas and Clone Defects, and today includes the likes of Tyvek. Terrible Twos bring together death-defying drumming, nerve-racking guitar spasmodics, and police-bot siren screams from the keyboards to deliver one of the most intense live shows going these days. Fortunately they come through town quite a bit, and for this show they're joined by Football, a "supergroup" (you know, like Blind Faith and USA for Africa) of Chicago rock veterans: Mike Lust (Tight Phantomz), Jered Gummere (Ponys), Jim McCann (Tyrades, Baseball Furies), and Srini Radhakrishna (Guilty Pleasures, France Has the Bomb). Opening are Radar Eyes, who seem to outdo themselves with every show. —Brian Costello Terrible Twos headline; Football, the Birthday Suits, Double Bird, and Radar Eyes open. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, $8, free with RSVP at email@example.com.
AHLEUCHATISTAS In the past three years or so, this long-running North Carolina group has switched drummers and shed its bassist, and its sound has undergone some big changes too. On the new Location Location (Open Letter) Ahleuchatistas are the duo of founding guitarist Shane Perlowin and drummer Ryan Oslance, and they've opened up their dizzying, crazily dense math rock to give it a little breathing room, some less hurried rhythms, and even flashes of calm. On his first solo record, last year's The Vacancy in Every Verse, Perlowin is clearly influenced by Bill Frisell's billowy, pastoral sound, and on this year's The Violence, The Violence (Open Letter), by a duo with drummer James Owen called Doom Ribbons, he favors gentle, relatively melodic meditations. In Ahleuchatistas his playing remains technically impressive and frequently ferocious, but on Location Location he digresses into jagged tunefulness, hall-of-mirrors rhythmic tricks, and pure noise; Oslance likewise splinters his regular patterns with outbursts that recall unmetered free jazz. —Peter Margasak 8 PM, Reggie's Music Joint, $5.
HERESY OF THE FREE SPIRIT, PAUL METZGER See Tuesday. Heresy of the Free Spirit is a trio of Dutch lutenist Jozef Van Wissem and American multi-instrumentalists Che Chen and Robbie Lee. Their debut LP, A Prayer for Light (Incunabulum), is an alluring blend of Renaissance melodies and Appalachian atmospheres that sounds like nothing else I've ever heard. Tomorrow at the Empty Bottle, Van Wissem will play solo and Chen and Lee will perform as a duo; this is the only chance to catch the trio. —Bill Meyer 5 PM, Permanent Records.
NOVELLER You may recognize guitarist Sarah Lipstate from her stint in Parts & Labor, which ended about two years ago, or from the six months she spent immediately afterward playing in Cold Cave. She's now concentrating on her experimental solo project, Noveller, and on the brand-new Glacial Glow (Saffron/Weird Forest) she takes a turn toward accessibility, shedding the distorted drones and scrawling feedback of her earlier recordings almost completely—it's less fuzzy, more warm and fuzzy. Dreamy and engrossing, the songs on Glacial Glow often sound like they're just a rhythm section and some vocals away from being indie pop. Its lush, ambient textures recall the one Parts & Labor album Lipstate worked on, 2008's Receivers: both include meditative tunes and approachable melodies. It's a hypnotic listen, and Noveller is just as mesmerizing live—with just a guitar and some effects pedals, Lipstate creates tidal waves of sound. —Leor Galil Talk Normal headlines; Noveller and U.S. Girls open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle.
PAUL METZGER, JOZEF VAN WISSEM, CHE CHEN & ROBBIE LEE There are plenty of instrument inventors out there, but few have the rigorous vision of Minneapolis oddball Paul Metzger. On last year's stunning The Uses of Infinity (Locust), he coaxes iridescent overlapping tones from his custom-made 23-string banjo that make it sound like a distant cousin of the Indian sarangi. He plucks snaking melodies on the instrument's brittle-sounding primary strings while strumming others to produce rippling, evanescent sympathetic drones; despite his work's surface similarities to Indian classical music, though, Metzger doesn't imitate raga structures, instead designing his own architecture of motific development. He recorded the six-part composition on Infinity in a century-old Duluth cathedral, and the space adds a nice natural reverb. —Peter Margasak
Thus far ingratiation and compromise haven't much figured into Dutch lutenist Jozef Van Wissem's campaign to rescue his instrument from museum-piece status. He seems to prefer to showcase the lute's capacity to thrive in challenging nonperiod settings—he might improvise freely with west-coast freaks Smegma, for instance, or play solo pieces that illustrate the links between Renaissance compositions and contemporary minimalism. But Van Wissem isn't completely averse to interfacing with the mainstream. That's him plucking away on the soundtrack to the video game The Sims Medieval, and on his new album, The Joy That Never Ends (Important), he duets with filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, who places ribbons of guitar feedback into the empty spaces in the lute's stair-stepping strums so exquisitely that I wonder if he shouldn't give the movies a rest and go full-time into music. Robbie Lee (bass clarinet, contrabass recorder, banjo, electronics) and Che Chen (violin, percussion, bowed rawap, tape delay) share Van Wissem's interest in merging the sound worlds of the Renaissance and the present without lapsing into men-in-tights fakery, and they perform with him as the trio Heresy of the Free Spirit. Their own music covers an enormous range, from gentle explorations of woodwind and string textures to savagely psychedelic blowouts. —Bill Meyer See also Monday. Metzger headlines; Van Wissem and Chen & Lee open. 9 PM, Empty Bottle, $8.
R. STEVIE MOORE Now 59 years old, R. Stevie Moore has made about 400 albums, releasing most of them himself, at first on cassette or vinyl and more recently on CD-R or as downloads; through his website you can order a copy of practically anything he's recorded, all the way back to the late 60s. But even if he'd stopped after his classic 1976 debut album, Phonography (which British label Recommended reissued on CD last year), he'd still be considered a groundbreaker. The warped pop of Phonography created a new paradigm—bedroom pop, lo-fi, DIY, whatever—that would become hugely influential in indie-rock circles over the next decade. (His apparent refusal to edit his often uneven work has been influential as well, with less happy results.) A Nashville native whose father was a longtime session musician for Elvis Presley, Moore wrote and recorded what became Phonography in 1975 and 1976, using reel-to-reel tape machines. The album mixes gorgeous, multilayered post-Beach Boys pop gems like "I've Begun to Fall in Love" and "California Rhythm" with fake commercials and jokes like "Explanation of Artist," where he talks about himself while taking a leak. His voluminous output includes curious excursions into one genre after another, but running through it all are several common threads—strong melodies, raw sound quality, and geeky humor a la the Residents (early champions of his work) and Frank Zappa. Moore rarely performs, and he visits the midwest even less frequently. Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, this is his first world tour, and it's being filmed for a documentary. With any luck it won't be his last, but he's bitterly critical of the music business and disillusioned by his own obscurity. As he told Bomb magazine in 2007, "It's really harder than ever for me to travel without some sort of supporting chauffeur or helping entourage. Otherwise, I still dig doing it, when it's right. But not for long, that is, after the same public indifference sets me straight and I ultimately decide once again it's not worth all the trouble for a room of 10 to 20 people." —Peter Margasak Tropical Ooze, Brain Idea, and John Bellows open. 9 PM, Empty Bottle, $8, free with RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org.