Chicago electronic musician Brett Naucke achieves new sophistication by exploring memories of his childhood home on The Mansion | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Chicago electronic musician Brett Naucke achieves new sophistication by exploring memories of his childhood home on The Mansion 

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click to enlarge Brett Naucke

Brett Naucke

Danielle Campbell

Chicago electronic artist Brett Naucke has been a scarce presence on the local scene in recent years, suggesting that his commitment has shifted toward forging new terrain in his home studio rather than performing. He’s released a steady stream of underground cassettes since his acclaimed 2014 album The Seed, but next month he’ll drop The Mansion, his second for the Spectrum Spools imprint. The record, a deeply personal effort that reflects on memories of his childhood home, registers as his greatest achievement thus far, and it’s instructive to hear what he’s worked through leading up to it. As its title suggests, his 2016 cassette Executable Dreamtime (Umor Rex) delivers music of ravishing, contemplative beauty in seven themes of quietly gurgling, hypnotic synthesis, while last year’s Multiple Hallucinations (Hausu Mountain) embraces a more visceral side of his work, with abrasive noise, a grimy low end, and beats studding the long-form multipartite suite—which holds together despite feeling like a series of studies. Naucke blends those various ideas into cohesion on his new album; its lush array of ambience, melody, and texture is aided by the wordless cooing of Natalie Chami (TALsounds) on a couple of tracks and the grainy, probing viola of Whitney Johnson (Matchess) on “Clocks in the Mansion.” These pieces are built with much greater compositional rigor than his earlier works, as one fascinating passage folds into the next with a slippery but clear logic. I can’t suss out the connection to Naucke’s youth in the music, but it’s hard to miss the emotion he poured into its creation.   v


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