Russian Circles | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Russian Circles 

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Dakota/Dakota, the local instrumental trio that guitarist Mike Sullivan and bassist Colin DeKuiper played in a couple years back, didn't exactly set the world on fire. Riddle of Steel, the Saint Louis band they poached drummer Dave Turncrantz from to form this new instrumental trio, might've had a shot if he'd stuck around. A year and a half in, it's still too early to make the call with Russian Circles, but they've got a long attention span to go with their short history--it gives an impressive focus to the lush, ambitious, force-of-nature indie metal on their full-length debut, Enter (Flameshovel). Though not a "concept album" in the conventional sense (that generally requires lyrics), it's intended to be taken as a thematically unified whole: it ebbs, swells, and crashes oceanically, while carefully choreographed tectonic shifts play out in its substructure. Turncrantz's drumming lopes and gallops, powerful and light-footed, and Sullivan and DeKuiper sometimes clear it a path and sometimes climb on and ride it hell-for-leather. Though it's disappointingly easy to figure out that the quiet, wavering stretches are just feints, without much function besides setting up the next eruption, the whole record's beautifully paced. And despite the sparse, simple instrumentation--these guys use a minimum of overdubs and one fewer guitar than Pelican--they create such a vivid dreamscape you never once miss a human voice. These are record-release parties; Maps and Atlases open the all-ages early show, Lichens and Read Yellow the 21-and-up late one. Sat 5/27, 7 and 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10.

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