John Roberts, Jeffrey Sfire, Jacob Meehan, Sam Banks | Smart Bar | Dance | Chicago Reader
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John Roberts, Jeffrey Sfire, Jacob Meehan, Sam Banks 

When: Fri., Jan. 23, 10 p.m. 2015
Price: $16, $14 before midnight, $10 in advance
Cleveland-born, Berlin-based DJ and producer John Roberts broke out in 2010 with Glass Eights, the first release by an American artist on Dial Records, a chic, sophisticated electronic-music label founded in Hamburg. The kind of sleek, sumptuous house beats that Glass Eights uses has become something of a Dial trademark—you can hear something similar in the work of labelmates Lawrence, Efdemin, and Roman Flugel—but Roberts also incorporates vinyl static, acoustic piano, and upright bass, conjuring an aura of moth-eaten stateliness that helped land the album on year-end lists at hip online publications such as Resident Advisor and Fact. Oddly, the reception was less enthusiastic for Roberts’s 2013 follow-up, Fences, though it’s a far more varied and engrossing album. With rhythms and run times that shift dramatically from track to track, Fences predates the sideways approach to contemporary dance music employed by notable 2014 releases such as Arca’s Xen and Objekt’s Flatland. Roberts was once known as a straightforward deep-house DJ, but if Fences is any indication, tonight’s set might take some fascinating detours. —Tal Rosenberg

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