Bonnie "Prince" Billy with Bitchin Bajas, Bill MacKay | Constellation | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Bonnie "Prince" Billy and the Bitchin Bajas

Bonnie "Prince" Billy and the Bitchin Bajas

Bonnie "Prince" Billy with Bitchin Bajas, Bill MacKay 

When: June 16-17, 8:30 p.m. 2016
Price: sold out
On Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties (Drag City) Bonnie “Prince” Billy (aka Will Oldham) again demonstrates his malleability, tapping into the minimalist trance vibe of Chicago’s equally shape-shifting Bitchin Bajas. Singing phrases that seem taken from the sort of fortune-cookie messages pictured on the album art, Oldham still gives the record shape with a muted yet soulful warble, layering his wonderfully cracked voice over cycling, beguiling patterns of guitar, synthesizers, and winds that suggest Terry Riley leading a garage band. The entire endeavor is marked by a breezy, almost soothing sense of experimentation—it’s a murkily recorded casual jam session where the musicians routinely discover effective licks and grooves and aren’t afraid to tinker with them. “Your Heart Is Pure, Your Mind Is Clear, Your Soul Devout” almost sounds like a Hindu mantra as the sound of a homemade gamelan dissolves in a milky wash of overdubbed voices and resonant keyboards, while “Despair Is Criminal” is little more than a plaintive vocal meditation over billowing synthesizer. The album frequently intimates the Indian roots of the American New Age movement, but the performances never approach hermeticism or fluff. Both Oldham and Bitchin Bajas will play short sets on their own before playing a longer set together.
— Peter Margasak
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