Jason Lescalleet | Bond Chapel, University of Chicago | Experimental | Chicago Reader
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Jason Lescalleet All Ages Free Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., June 8, 9 p.m. 2013
The latest album from Maine sound artist Jason Lescalleet is called Songs About Nothing (Erstwhile), but right from the cover you can tell he’s toying with you. The album artwork refers to Big Black’s Songs About Fucking, with the same bright green background and magenta type, but where Albini and company included the cropped face of an anime woman in flagrante, Lescalleet’s cover is simply blank. As Ben Ratliff noted in the New York Times last fall, the durations of the 13 songs on the album’s first disc, Trophy Tape, match those of the 13 songs on Songs About Fucking, and more than a few of Lescalleet’s track titles are plays on Big Black’s. The music, on the other hand, seems to share nothing with Big Black—and there’s no way the songs are about nothing, though they don’t have clear meanings or explicit messages. Last fall Lescalleet told Marc Masters at Pitchfork that he’s not on board with the notion of sound for sound’s sake: “I fight against that to have a purpose to my music.” Lescalleet’s medium is tape—which might contain found sounds, electronic feedback, extended samples of music, or field recordings—and to make his compositions he collages, edits, distorts, recasts, accelerates, and decelerates it. I can’t pretend to understand too much of what he’s trying to say by colliding any one passage with another, but I can’t help but hear the meticulous deliberation behind every choice. The album’s second disc, called Road Test, contains a single 43-minute track that feels almost meditative after the frenetic cuts of Trophy Tape, but it’s no less rigorous—once you adjust to its slower pace, it’s just as intense. For live performances Lescalleet tends to abandon his compositional approach in favor of something more spontaneous and gritty, getting hands-on with his reel-to-reel machines. —Peter Margasak



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