Sam Prekop, Cleared, Good Willsmith | Empty Bottle | Experimental | Chicago Reader
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Sam Prekop, Cleared, Good Willsmith 

When: Sat., April 25, 6 p.m. 2015
Price: $12, $10 in advance
On his new solo album, The Republic (Thrill Jockey), Sam Prekop (of the Sea and Cake) demonstrates a more intuitive and natural command of the modular synthesizer setup he’s recently been obsessed with, and that’s allowed his breezy melodic sensibility to flow out of his work in a way it didn’t on his 2010 album Old Punch Card, as pleasing as that record was. The first half of The Republic was created as the score for an installation piece of the same name by Chicago artist David Hartt, and though the music is elliptical and abstract, Prekop is so deft at moving from harsh gurgles to soothing tones and layering disparate sounds—like staticky hisses, swooping sine waves, and lush pads—that this portion of the album easily stands on its own merits. The second half veers more toward narrative structures, though Prekop dispenses with the verse-chorus-verse model employed in his work with the Sea and Cake. Lovely melodies swell over serene atmospheres and spacey counterpoint—songs are sometimes driven by pulsing, bass-heavy ostinato, while at other times electronic beats thrum against the icy synthetic tones. It sounds like Tangerine Dream might if they understood the benefits of concision and doing away with the cheese. A few years ago I saw Prekop perform a modular synth concert with a full banquet table loaded with gear, but this date is part of a U.S. tour in which he’s employing a more compact setup—and one that will allow audience members to focus on the sounds rather than a closet’s worth of vintage equipment. —Peter Margasak

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