Monday, September 30, 2013

Best shows to see: Julianna Barwick, Prism, Atoms for Peace

Posted By on 09.30.13 at 12:30 PM

Julianna Barwick
  • Julianna Barwick
It's October tomorrow, which means, among other things, the concert calendar will start to fill up with local acts covering beloved bands to celebrate Halloween. There's 31 days before All Hallow's Eve and plenty of concerts to check out before then. Tonight there's Ms Mr at Lincoln Hall, Mac Blackout Band at Empty Bottle, and, if you feel like staying in but want to see some "live" music the folks behind SPF420 are hosting DJ Earl and Traxman (who just dropped a new album, Teklife Vol. 3: The Architek) on Tinychat.

Tomorrow night you can check out Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. at House of Blues, Langhorne Slim & the Law at Lincoln Hall, Dan Croll at Empty Bottle, or Electric Six at Double Door. On Wednesday there's Sam Amidon at Old Town School of Folk Music, Katatonia and Cult of Luna at Bottom Lounge, and Ra Ra Riot at Double Door. Be sure to check out Soundboard for more concert listings for the week ahead, and read on to see what Reader critic Peter Margasak has recommended for the next few days.

Mon 9/30: Julianna Barwick at Auditorium Theatre

"Julianna Barwick has developed a dazzling aesthetic, layering and looping gossamer wordless singing to create an ethereal sound world whose drifting constellations get their heft from gently turbulent vocal harmonies," Margasak writes. On her new Nepenthe (Dead Oceans) Barwick broadens her approach by teaming up with Icelandic producer and Sigur Ros collaborator Alex Somers, string ensemble Amiina, and members of Mum. "She developed the songs in a studio, and unsurprisingly her cohorts impart a bit of the woozy, meditative splendor that's characteristic of Iceland's more expansive pop; on some songs Barwick's voice gets lost in the floating strings and eerie drift of the Teen Girl Choir (aka the women in Mum who sing on the record). On 'One Half' and 'Forever' Barwick delivers clearly intelligible English-language lyrics and shapes discrete melodies, both novelties for her, and overall she achieves a satisfying fusion of her own inventions with the new context provided by her collaborators." Sigur Ros headlines.

Tue 10/1: Prism at Space

Margasak has taken a shine to Dave Holland's new project in part because the bassist departs from a formula he's worked with for decades—a quintet of vibes, saxophone, trombone, bass, and drums. "On the self-titled debut of his new quartet, Prism (Dare2), Holland ditches front-line horn players in favor of electric guitarist Kevin Eubanks (leader of the Tonight Show Band from 1995 till 2010 and a member of Holland's groups in the late 80s) and keyboardist Craig Taborn (who alternates between acoustic and electric piano)," Margasak writes. "The music is generally unfussy, and it offers a rare chance to hear Taborn in a more straight-ahead mode—he's just as great here as he is in more progressive territory. Considering that Holland worked with Miles Davis when the trumpeter transformed his music with proto-fusion, I was hoping Prism would get a bit more explosive or dissonant, but even in the absence of such fireworks the music is often sublime."

Wed 10/2: Atoms for Peace at UIC Pavilion

Radiohead's Thom Yorke formed Atoms for Peace to reimagine the songs on his solo album The Eraser for a live setting, and according to Margasak the band has created an identity outside of Yorke's solo work. "On Atoms for Peace's debut album, Amok (XL), tightly coiled dance rhythms (programmed beats mixed with live drumming by Joey Waronker and Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco) support twitchy synthesizer licks, low-end tones of indeterminate origin, and the occasional guitar squiggle," Margasak writes. "Amok doesn't have the same heft and richness of Radiohead, but it packs a punch of its own."

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