Grails brings their inimitabile instrumental rock to Chicago, with support from Chicago rock cellist Helen Money | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Grails brings their inimitabile instrumental rock to Chicago, with support from Chicago rock cellist Helen Money 

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click to enlarge Helen Money

Helen Money

Jim Newberry

Postrock, psych rock, western film scores, Krautrock, heavy dirges . . . there’s little Grails can’t deliver stylistically, and they always deliver their music well. For their most recent album, 2017’s Chalice Hymnal (Temporary Residence), the Portland band pare down to the core trio of Alex John Hall, Emil Amos, and William Zakary Riles and crawl deep into dusty post-Americana, library music, gnarly psychedelia, and Eastern motifs. With a few touring members in tow, the multi-instrumentalists hit Chicago as part of Lincoln Hall and Schubas’ Tomorrow Never Knows festival, and they’re joined by two other exceptional instrumental acts. In the main support slot is rock cellist Helen Money, who boosts her dark, somber, and powerful minimalist arrangements with effects pedals and percussive backing. Her latest album, 2016’s Become Zero (Thrill Jockey)——an ode to her deceased parents—contains some of her starkest work to date. It's also her most sonically versatile, with added elements such as piano, electronics, and MIDI sounds. Opening the show is Black Duck, a new trio featuring some of Chicago’s most exciting postrock and jazz songwriters and improvisers: guitarist Douglas McCombs (Tortoise, Brokeback), guitarist Bill MacKay, and drummer Charles Rumback. Together, the three set out to craft alternately groove-based and free-form psych-rock improvisations. If you like emotionally resonant instrumental music, it’s hard to top this show’s lineup.   v

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