Rob Mazurek & Emmett Kelly, Horse Lords, Jaimie Branch's Cornet Orbit, DJ Damon Locks | Hideout | Jazz, Rock, Pop, Etc, Experimental | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Rob Mazurek & Emmett Kelly, Horse Lords

Rob Mazurek & Emmett Kelly, Horse Lords

Peter Gannushkin, Courtesy the artist, Theo Anthony

Rob Mazurek & Emmett Kelly, Horse Lords, Jaimie Branch's Cornet Orbit, DJ Damon Locks 

When: Fri., Aug. 26, 9 p.m. 2016
Price: $14
On the surface a collaboration between cornetist and sound artist Rob Mazurek and singer, guitarist, and songwriter Emmett Kelly seems like a stretch, and before I listened to the recent Alien Flower Sutra (International Anthem) I had trouble imagining what the pair would come up with. But the results are both warmly familiar and hauntingly otherworldly. Mazurek initially envisioned an opera and provided Kelly—known best for leading the Cairo Gang and serving as a key foil to Will Oldham in Bonnie “Prince” Billy—with a set of largely amorphous, often strident electronic soundscapes peppered with distinctive instrumental flourishes like the grainy rabeca scrapes provided by Thomas Rohrer on “Android Love Cry.” Kelly responded with a series of loose sketches for voice and guitar he made at home in LA, and rather than transplant those musical ideas and texts as compositional elements and libretto, Mazurek, experimenting in a São Paolo studio, ended up grafting the raw recording to the work, weaving passages of crushing humanity and tenderness into a stark, harrowing landscape of static, white noise, squelches, low-end pulses, cornet flurries, and brittle guitar chords. It’s a stunning piece of work that finds both Mazurek and Kelly exploring new territory, and I suspect the creative stretching will be even greater during the duo’s few live performances. —Peter Margasak

Baltimore has long been a breeding ground for bands that scribble well outside the lines, and the city’s instrumental art-rock scene, for one, remains alive and well, thanks in part to Faust devotees Horse Lords. Their new Interventions (Northern Spy) is a doozy, with looping riffs that devolve into looping riffs ad infinitum, all the while poked at by saxophone skronk and off-kilter rhythms from percussive-­doodad rhythms. Their live shows feature a sort of ever-morphing decor as throughout a set, sax player/drummer/composer Andrew Bernstein, for instance, shuffles around and through the band’s maze of instruments, occasionally reaching into thin air around the corner of a floor tom to reveal a pair of maracas. It’s a hypnotic process to watch, because though Interventions is a knotted, out-there record, Horse Lords never break stride. The saga “Toward the Omega Point” demonstrates the engaging and mesmerizing power of repetition—even the track’s subtle tweaks in tone feel like part of a bizarre chant—but it’s the challenging, noise-driven “Intervention” series that makes the album feel whole. —Kevin Warwick

— Peter Margasak, Kevin Warwick

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