Chicago industrial trio Civic Center streamline their surreal sound on The Ground Below | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Chicago industrial trio Civic Center streamline their surreal sound on The Ground Below 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

click to enlarge Civic Center

Civic Center

Cesar Robles

Local postpunk label Chicago Research quickly became a locus for bizarre, depraved sounds after launching in February 2019, in part because the people involved are longtime friends as well as like-minded musicians. Industrial surrealists Civic Center put out one of the label’s first releases (a cassette called A Place for the Weak), and all three members also have other bands or projects with music on Chicago Research. Front man Jack Brockman records mutant coldwave as Understudy; bassist Clementine Wink masterminds the psychedelic-leaning Hen of the Woods; and synth player Blake Karlson, who founded the label, makes experimental solo tracks as Lily the Fields (he’s also fronted postpunk trio Product KF, though they’re on hiatus). Karlson says that he and his Civic Center compatriots find it easy to write lots of material, and in their year and a half as a band they’ve released four cassettes and one compilation through Chicago Research. The group’s vinyl debut, The Ground Below, arrives through American Dreams Recordings, a local label founded by experimental musician and Reader contributor Jordan Reyes. (In May he released a cassette of his own on Chicago Research, Broken Sleep, and he’s also a member of Ono, whose new Red Summer came out via American Dreams.) Much of Civic Center’s back catalog sounds the way burning plastic smells during its toxic liquefaction, but The Ground Below dials back their most aggressive inclinations. On “Fly on the Wall,” Civic Center gird Brockman’s restrained, echoing vocals with minimal percussion and austere bass, demonstrating how well they can transmute their haunting affectations into dance music.   v

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Give $35/month →  
  Give $10/month →  
  Give  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Leor Galil

Popular Stories