Savath & Savalas, Juana Molina | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Savath & Savalas, Juana Molina 

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Scott Herren is best known for the adventurous hip-hop-influenced records he's made under the name Prefuse 73, but early in his career he also released a run-of-the-mill electronica album under the name Savath & Savalas. With its melancholy synth melodies, glitchy textures, and fractured programmed beats, Folk Songs for Trains, Trees and Honey (Hefty, 2000) sounded like dozens of other instrumental electronic albums of the time. Then Herren moved to Barcelona and began working with Spanish singer Eva Puyuelo Muns. The latest Savath & Savalas album, Apropa't (Warp), a collaboration between the two, reflects Herren's new obsession with the richly layered, slightly psychedelic pop produced in Brazil in the 70s by artists like Lo Borges, Milton Nascimento, Joao Bosco, and Edu Lobo. Herren and Muns nail the music's spectral harmonies and--with the help of assorted Chicagoans--its warm instrumentation of acoustic guitars, electric piano, reeds, and gentle percussion. The highlight is a cover of Borges's "Um girassol da cor de seu cabelo," but that track points up the problem with the rest of the album: the duo's originals don't approach the melodic splendor of their influences. Brazilian pop is hard to forget; the music on Apropa't, lovely as it may feel in the moment, is hard to remember. Still, this gig features a terrific eight-member band that includes bassist Josh Abrams, drummer Susie Ibarra, and Argentine singer Juana Molina, who also performs her own set. On Molina's new album, Tres cosas (Domino), the arrangements are minimal--usually acoustic guitar and some electronic gurgles--and she sings quietly, but the tunes are gorgeous and the performances seductive. DJ Nobody opens. 18 and over. Friday, April 23, 10 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace; 773-478-4408.

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

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