Robbie Hardkiss | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Robbie Hardkiss 

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Given the techno diaspora's tendency toward psychedelic excess, it's surprising that more DJs and producers don't flaunt the connection between 90s beat science and 60s studio wizardry more explicitly. Lots of them pursue disorienting effects and mind-warping sounds--most notably the producers of the squiggling, wriggling, giggling, manipulated-bass-line acid sound--but few go all the way toward exploring the lush, florid soundscapes of psych's most feelingful moments. This is where San Francisco's Gavin, Scott, and Robbie Hardkiss (brothers in name only) come in. Separately and together they've created a sound clearly inspired by the old west-coast vibe: it's laid-back and trippy as fuck, a magic carpet ride through an enchanted forest guided by pixies, mushrooms to minimalist techno's amphetamines or house music's MDMA. Robbie's contributions are available for home perusal on his mix CD, Mixed Messages (Moonshine). Like most trips it's not all sunshine and lollipops: there's some genuinely disorienting stuff here, including local hero Cajmere's wound-tight "Feelin' Kinda High." But unlike many such projects, which purport to "take you on a journey" and then don't go anywhere, this one really moves--from straight house rhythms to breakbeats, from deep reverberating fields of bass to heady aural flora, from the Drum Club's tribal funk to Walker's smirking acid to Elements of Life's saxophone fantasia. And Robbie's record collection can only have grown in the three years since the CD was released. Friday, 10 PM, Smart Bar, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-4140. MICHAELANGELO MATOS

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


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