Pulseprogramming, Beans | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Pulseprogramming, Beans 

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House was born in Chicago, but most of the electronic music produced in town, from T.V. Pow's laptop improv to Warmdesk's glitchery, has been experimental--the polar opposite of the old four on the floor. In recent years less abstract sounds have reentered the local mix, courtesy of acts like Telefon Tel Aviv (melodic IDM) and Magas (neoelectro), and now Pulseprogramming. On their recently released second album, Tulsa for One Second (Aesthetics), the duo of Joel Kriske and Marc Hellner (with help from a slew of multimedia assistants) smooth over their skittering beats and electronic flickers with serene synth melodies. Vocals enhance the warm washes of sound and burbling beats on several tracks, with mixed results: L'altra singer Lindsay Anderson adds depth and beauty with her sweet yet smoky contribution, but Hellner's own singing is icy and rather bland. This is pretty stuff overall, but sometimes it edges uncomfortably close to New Age. (Anderson will join them for this performance and Eric Johnson will project video behind them.) New York MC Beans, a former spoken-word artist, was the resident nutjob with the now defunct hip-hop crew Anti-Pop Consortium. On his new solo debut, Tomorrow Right Now (Warp), his barely controlled raps continue to struggle against constraints imposed by beatbox rhythms--it's a slight relief when he finally gives himself the space to let his freak verse fly on "Booga Sugar," a frenzied a cappella tale of drug addiction. But Beans's flow has a manic charm a la Kool Keith on tracks like "Phreek the Beet" and particularly "Crave," a chintzy human beatbox vehicle where he's not so much challenging the beat as ignoring it. Old-school rhythms collide with analog synth action throughout, with details like the wah-wah squiggles on "Hot Venom" and the squelchy noise attack of "Sickle Cell Hysteria" filling in the gaps. A Grape Dope (see Post No Bills) also performs. Saturday, March 29, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

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