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Implodes, Population, Acteurs, DJ Scary Lady Sarah 

When: Mon., April 8, 9 p.m. 2013
With its brand-new second album, Recurring Dream (Kranky), Chicago quartet Implodes further streamlines and crystallizes its coldly lustrous hybrid of shoegaze atmosphere and gothic austerity. Everyone but drummer Justin Rathell contributes vocals, but they’re usually little more than a distant, whispery monotone, bathed in reverb and buried by slashing riffs, E-bowed guitar, textural distortion, and eerie synthesizers. Various striated long tones hover and collide, propelled by Rathell’s machine-steady beats, so that despite the music’s icy veneer and echo-chamber ambience it packs a serious punch. I’d like to hear what Implodes’ focus and drive would produce if they shook off some of the sonic fog.

The self-titled debut from Acteurs, the duo of Jeremy Lemos (White/Light) and Brian Case (Disappears), couldn’t get much more stripped down. Their six-track EP (on British label Public Information) variously reminds me of Suicide, Ike Yard, and early Cabaret Voltaire, but none of those acts sounded so raw or worked with such minimal materials—Acteurs use only a handful of elements at a time, and they limit their palette to austere, scythelike bass lines, vicious bursts of noise, metronomic programmed beats, electronic tones that stab, swirl, and seethe, and the occasional robotic, bummed-out vocal chant. Despite its deliberate plodding quality, the music’s sharp edges connected viscerally the very first time I heard it—this is one of the best Chicago records I’ve heard this year. —Peter Margasak Implodes headlines; Population, Acteurs, and DJ Scary Lady Sarah open.

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