Damo Suzuki & Cul de Sac | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Damo Suzuki & Cul de Sac 

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For vocalist Damo Suzuki, creativity is inseparable from spontaneity. In 1970, two members of the archetypal Krautrock ensemble Can encountered him busking on a Munich sidewalk, making up songs off the top of his head, and asked him to join the band onstage that night. He did--without any rehearsal--and proceeded to stay on for three of Can's best years. Nowadays Suzuki practices what he calls "instant composition," sort of a full-band version of his street performance all those years ago; at a House of Blues show in 1998, a rhythm section laid down steady grooves and two guitarists, including Can's Michael Karoli, laced their liquid melodies with feedback while Suzuki twisted his elastic voice from a low growl into a keening wail, using words more for their sound than their sense. It took the band a while to get going, but they'd definitely hit their stride by midnight--when the house management unceremoniously closed the curtains in the middle of a song. Sadly, we'll never get a chance to see Karoli redress the truncation of that set; he died of cancer late last year. But Suzuki is coming back, accompanied by the Boston-based quintet Cul de Sac. It's an inspired pairing: the open-ended instrumental excursions on Cul de Sac's new album, Immortality Lessons (Strange Attractors), radiate a spontaneous spirit that resonates with Suzuki's, and the band has a history of collaborating with strong personalities--they've recorded with famously obstinate guitarist John Fahey and unhinged vocalist Dredd Foole, and recently did the sound track to The Strangler's Wife, a feature-length movie produced by Roger Corman. Guitarist Glenn Jones spins melodic lines from influences as diverse as Greek folk music, Jimi Hendrix, and the Takoma Records school of "American primitive" guitar. Electronicist Robin Amos smudges Jones's themes with whizzing, sputtering washes of sound, and the rhythm section drives them both steadily, like a stiff breeze behind a couple of sailboats. Jones is scheduled to open the show with a couple solo acoustic pieces; next Cul de Sac will play a set, then Suzuki will join them. Friday, May 10, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Sabrina.

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