New Brutalism | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

New Brutalism 

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Tactical Works is a small group of friends spread out across Baltimore, North Carolina, and Tennessee that includes architects, electrical engineers, machinists, and luthiers. They play in five so-called Brut bands: Beton Brut, New Brutalism, Villabrut, Soldat Brut, and a fifth that's so far unnamed. Everyone involved shares a love of Brutalist architecture (think poured concrete and severe geometry, like the Regenstein Library at the U. of C.), angular, pared-down rock (think Shellac), and aluminum. Members of Tactical Works have machined all of New Brutalism's instruments from solid aluminum--the drum shells are rolled and welded from plates of the stuff, and even the 80-pound speaker cabinets are covered in metal sheeting. So far they've produced only two metal drum kits, but they're selling their solid aluminum guitars--wicked-looking axes, less than an inch thick, some with countersunk screws for fret markers. Guitarist Matt Hall sees aluminum as preferable to the usual wood: "It's dense but lightweight," he says, "with unbelievable sustain and amazingly rich overtones." As they demonstrate in the photos on New Brutalism's MySpace page, the instruments are fireproof and hold up fine when somebody accidentally drives over them during load-out. Early Skin Graft denizens (and fellow aluminum fans) Big'n headline with a reunion set; Tornavalanche, Quatre Tete, and New Brutalism open; and Chicago author Wayne E. Popelka reads from his new memoir, Somewhere in the Middle, drawn from letters he wrote home during his time as an intelligence analyst with the Iraq Survey Group. a 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8.


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