Chicago EBM producer Understudy brings a little light into his music’s murky throb on a new compilation | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Chicago EBM producer Understudy brings a little light into his music’s murky throb on a new compilation 

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Few contemporary musicians can simultaneously disturb me and get me dancing quite like Jack Brockman. The Chicagoan fronts industrial trio Civic Center, whose recent vinyl debut for American Dreams (June’s The Ground Below) tamps down its members’ more aggressively deranged inclinations but still manages to sound pretty surreal. He also makes solo EBM tracks as Understudy, and much of his catalog sounds like he recorded it at the bottom of a deep stone well that hasn’t seen sunlight in centuries. After releasing a couple cassettes through collective-slash-label Chicago Research earlier this year (March’s Without Sight, Without Sound and April’s Fortitude), Brockman gathered unreleased odds and ends for a compilation called Disgrace, which he self-released in December. If you like grimy dance music that sounds like the muffled throb of your own pulse in your eardrums, you’ll even get something out of Brockman’s foggiest, most half-formed experiments. I prefer the tracks where he drags his morose sounds closer to the sunlight: “An Understanding,” with gentle deep-house keys wafting over turgid, stomping drums, could be a long-lost DAT recording of a cultishly beloved but rarely heard late-80s dance number that Ron Hardy used to sneak into his marathon DJ sets.   v

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