Adult. | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


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Adam Lee Miller, an art-school grad from Detroit who used to play bass in punk bands, went over to the dark side after one group kicked him out for bringing synths to practice. He started playing solo in 1994, under the name Artificial Material, and after a verbal agreement with Aphex Twin's Rephlex label fell through, he started his own imprint, Ersatz Audio. In 1996 he formed the short-lived but influential neo-electro duo Le Car with Ian Clark (now of Perspects); when they broke up, he went back to performing alone. Meanwhile his wife, Nicola Kuperus, a fashion photographer who's referred to herself as "tone-deaf," had started visiting him in his studio and adding her two cents. By '98 they realized Artificial Material had morphed into something else, and they changed the name to Adult. Music and marriage can be a lethal combination (remember Timbuk 3?), but it works for Miller and Kuperus because they focus on sterility, not sentimentality. The stark, starched-collar pop tunes and Kuperus's cold, monotonous staccato delivery clearly illustrate the Kraftwerk influence--but big whoop, almost any musician who's ever touched an 808 has been influenced by Kraftwerk, and Adult. aren't trying to pretend they're robots, or even that they're important. Wearing fishnet stockings with a pinstriped suit is a bit waggish but hardly avant-garde, and as the duo says in one on-line interview, "Once we were not very good at being complex, now we aren't interested in being complex." Vocoderized lyrics address some social issues ("Do you like my handbag? / It's filled with lots of money") but mostly internal ones ("When I touch your skin I feel like I have to wash my hands / Just when I think I'm in control I fall apart again"). Live performances are absolutely no-frills, a step above other laptop gigs only because the blank (not vacant) stares are part of an act--and because there's a good-looking lady in bitchy boots onstage. Trans Am (see Spot Check) headlines; Magas opens. Wednesday, June 12, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.


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