Jessamine | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


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Bored by the smothering, inflexible structures of rock in the last few years, the indie fold has come to include a growing flock of loose-limbed experimenters and improvisers. While most have been ham-fisted or just plain inept, a few interesting contenders have emerged from the mess. On its brand-new second album, The Long Arm of Coincidence (Kranky), Seattle's Jessamine continues to cop from Krautrock, particularly the hypnotic locked groove of Can, but seems to be growing beyond its influences. Dawn Smithson's woozy bass lines intersect Michael Faeth's imperturbable drum patterns with a serpentine grace, and together they form a sturdy foundation for the coloristic guitar of Rex Ritter and the extroverted analog synth squiggling and wheezing of Andy Brown. Jessamine can shift easily from the restrained, pretty melodicism of "Step Down" (on which Smithson hesitantly sings) to lengthy, largely improvised pieces like "Polish Countryside," an evocative soundscape where textures ripple and grooves throb. The band occasionally gets lost within its shapeless creations, but most of the time it finds the way out. Saturday, 4:30 PM, Reckless Records, 3157 N. Broadway, 404-5080; also opening for Bardo Pond, 10 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln, 525-6620.


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

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