KOENJI HYAKKEI | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

KOENJI HYAKKEI 

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The first time I heard Koenji Hyakkei, a manic, operatic prog band led by Japanese drummer and composer Tatsuya Yoshida, I relived the rush I got when I first heard Yoshida's long-running duo Ruins: not only had some sort of musical sound barrier been broken, but it'd been done by an unidentifiable craft from about three centuries in the future. Yoshida's music moves as fast as sparks jumping synapses, as though his brain were a supercomputer. Koenji Hyakkei's past couple albums have suffered for the absence of original lead singer Aki Kubota, but the group's most recent, 2005's Angherr Shisspa (Skin Graft), is nonetheless alien and exhilarating: Yoshida's inhuman drumming powers a guitarless five-piece with a keyboard-and-reed front line, and everyone contributes vocals in Yoshida's made-up, Magma-esque language. The music is crushingly dense and crazily herky-jerky, but astoundingly it still manages to soar. Cheer-Accident headlines and Teith, a side project of Pelican's Trevor de Brauw, opens. a 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $12, $10 in advance, 18+.

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