Scott McGaughey of local electronic-music veterans Chandeliers goes solo | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Scott McGaughey of local electronic-music veterans Chandeliers goes solo 

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click to enlarge Scott McGaughey

Scott McGaughey

Harry Brenner

If you’ve ever seen Chicago ensemble Chandeliers, you’ve seen Scott McGaughey hunched behind a bunch of black boxes and patch cords. Chandeliers have long taken an ecumenical approach to electronic music, weaving together clattering drum programs, squelchy funk punctuations, and long, proggy melodies; the closest they get to a rule is that hardware, not software, determines the sounds. Synthesizers are also the dominant sound source on McGaughey’s first solo LP, but he’s swapped Chandeliers’ frequently lengthy jams for carefully layered constructions that sneak hints of complicated emotions into their catchy tunes. Jaunty piano stabs challenge the bubbly wistfulness of “Glass Bottom Boat,” and the slowed-down voices and sandwich-thick low notes of “DVD Menu” sink through ascending swirls like guilty memories of an afternoon that could’ve been spent more productively than clutching a remote control on the couch. “Passport” seems to accumulate force as one sequence of blips overtakes another and fading echoes spiral away from the core groove, so that the track’s development feels like a traveler picking up resolve with every step of a journey. Listening to You Don’t Need a Key to Leave is a bit like leafing through a stranger’s diary: it feels quite personal, but since the writer didn’t need to spell out all the action, you’re left guessing as to just what it’s about.   v

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