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YUKO NEXUS6 KITAMURA 10/24, Museum of Contemporary Art; 10/25, ARTEMISIA In an essay published in Xebec SoundArts in 1996, computer musician Yuko Nexus6 Kitamura asserted that using computers to make music "has come close to being as easy as it used to be for a young rock fan to borrow the electric guitar her or his older brother had gotten tired of and tossed aside to start a band"--a claim that may have been true in Japan, where she lives, but is only becoming plausible here as the price of technology continues to drop and the gray-box mystique to fade. Kitamura got her start playing on a company computer at a job in San Francisco and says her first public performance, on a Macintosh plugged into a guitar amp, was "an extremely sloppy affair." She has recently released her first CD, Bit Diary (on the Tokyo label Kaeru Cafe), and also written a book, Cyber Kitchen Music, about how to make computer music with the sound source built into a Mac; however, it's currently available only in Japanese. Kitamura makes several appearances this weekend: On Saturday, as part of the Asian American Jazz Festival, she'll collaborate with Yasuhiro Ohtani, guitarist Jeff Parker, and drummer Dave Pavkovic in the Chicago/Tokyo New Music Ensemble. On Sunday, she'll perform with local vocalist Carol Genetti, one of the organizers of the Artemisia gallery's ongoing "Mixing: Women In Sound Art" series; the bill also includes performances by composers Olivia Block of Chicago and Sarah Peebles of Toronto. And if you're reading this on Thursday, October 22, you can catch Kitamura at the Empty Bottle on another Asian American Jazz Festival bill with the stellar Japanese turntablist and electronicist Otomo Yoshihide.

BUTCHIES 10/25, FIRESIDE BOWL This North Carolina trio led by Kaia Wilson and Melissa York--both veterans of the almost legendary lesbian punk band Team Dresch--claims to play "hard rock punk rock disco rock pop rock Pat-Benatar rock and ballads." I missed the disco, but otherwise these elements are all accounted for on their debut, Are We Not Femme? (on Mr. Lady, the label Wilson runs with her girlfriend, Tammy Rae Carland). What they add up to is a relatively unremarkable happy sloppy punk pop that gets by on pure energy. They play here with the Need, a promising Olympia duo featuring Rachel Carns of Kicking Giant, and Kelly Hogan in an all-ages show to commemorate Homocore Chicago's sixth anniversary.

SUCKDOG 10/25, LOUNGE AX Even the most bookwormish of culture vultures has got to give a heartfelt crow of tribute to Rollerderby editrix Lisa "Suckdog" Carver, who for nearly a decade has been rolling up her sleeves, slapping on the veterinary gloves, and plunging the pipes of underground America in search of unseemly viewpoints on everything from masturbation fantasies to Holocaust revisionism to mail-order brides to epilepsy. Though she can come off as grindingly narcissistic, her observations are often dead-on, and she tackles everything with a sharp, clean honesty--especially sex, which is almost required by law to come packed in little white lies these days. This tour, which also includes comics artist and Ben Is Dead contributor Dame Darcy, is her first since the release of Rollerderby (Feral House) and Dancing Queen (Henry Holt), two anthologies of Carver's greatest hits, and Onward Suckdog Soldiers, a CD of her punk-performance art fusion, which makes up for in balls what it lacks in lucidity. Local dada diva Zeek Sheck opens.

MICHAEL ROTHER & DIETER MOEBIUS 10/26, EMPTY BOTTLE Chronicles I (Purple Pyramid), the latest release from early Kraftwerk guitarist and Neu! cofounder Michael Rother, is a look back at his post-Neu! solo career, with tracks from his late 70s and early 80s electronic albums and a few unreleased pieces from the early 90s. Much of it is disappointingly banal keyboard-and-guitar burble--but his track "Neutronics 98," on the recent A Homage to Neu! (Cleopatra), is the shit. Dedicated to the memory of Neu! producer Conny Plank (with the benefit of hindsight Rother now believes he and Klaus Dinger could never have worked together as long as they did without him), it's a percolating, brooding nine-and-a-half-minute piece of minimalist pop noir, with a haunting keyboard pattern and rousing surges of effected light noise. It's by far the standout track on the record, which also includes contributions from Dead Voices on Air, Autechre, Gong vet Steve Hillage's System 7, and the Legendary Pink Dots; let's hope it's indicative of a new level of inspiration and not just a nod to history. Rother will be joined here by Dieter Moebius, with whom he's collaborated off and on since 1974 in the trio Harmonia (with Moebius's band mate in Cluster, Hans-Joachim Roedelius) and as a duo; this rare appearance is one of only six U.S. dates.

ASTEROID #4 10/27, EMPTY BOTTLE This Philadelphia quartet isn't coy about the kind of music it plays: the cover of its debut, Introducing... (on its own Lounge label), features the members' faces floating in a cheesy Lava lamp-esque swirl that reminds me of those antidrug films they used to show us in junior high (you know, the ones that never managed to make psychedelics look anything but fascinating). The music is pure nth-generation drone 'n' trance, with organ fills and electric sitar and guitar freakouts in all the right places. It'll carry anyone weaned on Syd Barrett imports and Spacemen 3 12-inches into the usual realms, but it won't take you where no man has gone before.

BLINK 10/27, METRO The End Is High (Mutant Sound System), the debut of this Irish quartet, kicks off promisingly with "A Planet Made of Rain," a track that salvages almost everything that was good about My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult (the notable exception being their sense of humor) to produce a poppy, hyperactive technorock. But the rest of the album is more typical catchy Euro synthpop threaded with hard-rock guitars to make it palatable to American radio, and it's just as well that the hip graphics of the booklet render most of the lyrics illegible. Might qualify as a "band to watch" if there's nothing good on TV.

JUDAS PRIEST 10/28, HOUSE OF BLUES What's a venerable metal institution to do when its front man comes out of the closet, grows a trendy little beard, and starts palling around with Trent Reznor? Judas Priest's response honors a time-tested tradition: hire a young unknown who vaguely resembles the original guy (a classic-rock junkie I know calls them "scabs") and continue as if nothing ever happened for the benefit of the Heavy Metal Parking Lot crowd, which will happily engage in endless debates about whether he sucks or rules. Here, I'll start: judging from Priest's new double CD '98 Live Meltdown (CMC International), Ripper Owens is fit to lick Rob Halford's boots--but just barely.

CASINO Versus JAPAN 10/29, LOUNGE AX On his eponymously titled debut (on the Star Star Stereo label), Casino Versus Japan--aka Milwaukeean Erik Kowalski--uses synths, samplers, and effects to drift so far into Nektar territory he makes Windy & Carl sound earthy and funky. What at first appears uneventful is full of gentle and inevitable happenings, but a little supernova here and there wouldn't hurt.

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