Lozenge | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Lozenge 

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LOZENGE

The cross-pollination of punk and improvised music has opened various new avenues of exploration, from the Ex's euphoric intersections with Dutch improvisers to Thurston Moore's free-jazz-noise-guitar compotes to the range of shotgun weddings between jazz and no wave arranged by Weasel Walter in the context of his Flying Luttenbachers. Lozenge, a Chicago band that shares bassist Kurt Johnson with the current Luttenbachers lineup, has charted a similarly twisted path that leads through art rock and the territory inhabited by Japanese eclectic extremists the Boredoms and Omoide Hatoba. The group was formed in 1992 in Houston, where it recorded its first CD, Plenum (Farrago), then re-formed in Chicago in '96 after taking a two-year hiatus in the name of higher education. Its first record since the move, Doozy (on the San Francisco Toyo label), is a messy, frenetic, supercharged pack of tracks recorded with the late Phil Bonnet. Kyle Bruckmann, who plays oboe and accordion and sings his own lyrics, is an active member of the improvising underground, often performing with Guillermo Gregorio and Gene Coleman's Ensemble Noamnesia, though if you'd heard him only in Lozenge you'd hardly recognize him in those more chamberlike settings. Bruckmann, Johnson, and saxophonist and electric violist John Robbins (who left the group after recording) make an effectively and purposefully clunky front line, barreling through occasional odd meters, fuzzy garage riffs, and menacing prog-punk pronouncements. Philip Montoro's metallic percussion--arranged around a set of 55-gallon oil drums--is equal parts Einstürzende Neubauten thump-and-smack and timbre-selective Lovens- or Lytton-style garbage-can improvising. He and drummer Mark Stevens handle the rhythmic duties collaboratively; on "Panang," for instance, they establish a metronomic pulse and then push off into unmetered percussion like swimmers leaving the side of the pool for a dip in the deep end. Doozy also includes a big apocalyptic blowout, "Quintet for the End of Time" (titled in cheeky homage to Messiaen), and open pieces like "Oodly" and "Gaulk" that highlight the intuitive interactions beneath Lozenge's craggy surface. Saturday, 8 PM, Fireside Bowl, 2646 W. Fullerton; 773-486-2700. Cheer-Accident headlines. John Corbett

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jeff Ellis.

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