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friday6

cPIERRE DORGE & NEW JUNGLE ORCHESTRA As leader of one of the most improbable, satisfying, and Methuselan operations in all of jazz, Pierre Dorge has spent nearly three decades piling on apparent contradictions. A native of Copenhagen (where, of course, there is no jungle), Dorge studied music in Ghana, where he absorbed the rolling rhythms of West and South Africa and learned to imitate the pearly tone and percussive phrasing of the kora with his guitar. With those techniques as a base, Dorge creates a madcap mosaic from odd shards of several musical legacies: the mercurial inventions of Thelonious Monk, the Afrocentric psychedelia of Sun Ra, and the spirited music of the Jungle Band that Duke Ellington led at the Cotton Club in the 1920s. That group helped pioneer the use of colorful instrumental techniques and "exotic" rhythms (what we'd now call world music) in jazz, and Dorge's intrepid little big band remains true to its tradition of musical exploration, drawing on a broad base of original compositions and a full complement of smart, fervent soloists. See also Saturday. a 9 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552, $12. --Neil Tesser

HELLA The new There's No 666 in Outer Space (Ipecac) is receiving seriously mixed reviews from longtime Hella fans, and it's not hard to hear why--what was once an instrumental duo has now swollen into a five-piece with a singer, Aaron Ross, howling away here and there. This is more a subtraction than an addition in my book; while conventional subgenres have long been grist for Hella's noise mill, the Alice in Chains-like effect they often achieve here sounds to me like they were aiming for sellout and missed. (Note to band: those Mars Volta comparisons you keep getting aren't compliments either.) Elsewhere, though, their playful prog degeneration provides new rewards, as they pile on burbling keyboards and balls-in-a-vise harmonies like they've decided recklessness is a skill set. And the revised lineup does seem like the kind that might redeem itself live--or make for a pretty entertaining failure. M. Sord and Who's Your Favorite Son God open. a 10 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $12, $10 in advance, 18+. --Monica Kendrick

cNOXAGT In slow mode, this Norwegian instrumental trio plays like a Japanese movie monster walks: lurching and stomping in destructive bursts of low-end noise, its gait only implying any kind of real forward progress. But Noxagt's violent music--which is even more intense when it's fast--is about much more than mere brutality, and now that baritone guitarist Anders Hana (MoHa, Ultralyd) has replaced violist Nils Erga, it's easier to hear that. Kjetil D. Brandsdal was once the band's lone member, and Noxagt's roiling grooves remain rooted in his detuned bass throb, but the 180-proof pow of drummer Jan Christian Lauritzen is nothing to take lightly: he provides the same focused slo-mo power that drove Swans' early stuff even while constantly adding fancy disruptions to the flow. Meanwhile Hana, who debuted on the group's self-titled album for Load last year, adds counterpoint in sleek, slashing lines and well-timed blasts. Where Erga's sustaining tone often disappeared into Brandsdal's, Hana negotiates the looming bass like a big-wave surfer. Noxagt has been compared to Lightning Bolt and Ruins, which fits--it's only when you're immersed in the apparent chaos of the music that you can hear its meticulous control. Waterbabies and Warhammer 48K open. a 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8. --Peter Margasak

saturday7

CALLA These New Yorkers have been around since 1997, but only after they signed to Beggars Banquet a couple years ago did their intentions finally become clear: they're trying to make goth respectable to the indie crowd. Not that Calla didn't flirt with gloom in the early days--their second full-length came out on Michael Gira's Young God label--but back then their music had more of an experimental bent, with the whooshing subway-tunnel atmospherics you used to hear in Wharton Tiers productions. The vocals on the new Strength in Numbers are more Elliott Smith than Robert Smith, but most of the songs make me wonder what Nine Inch Nails might've sounded like if Trent Reznor had escaped the suck vortex. The Zincs and the Narrator open. a 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10. --Monica Kendrick

cChicago Opera Theater With The Return of Ulysses (Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria), Chicago Opera Theater completes the ambitious cycle of all three extant Monteverdi operas it began in 2000. Monteverdi's rendering of Homer's Odyssey is text-driven and highly dramatic, something of a cross between Greek tragedy and Shakespeare. Under conductor Jane Glover the 11-piece orchestra--including two lutenists and Newberry Consort violist da gamba Mary Springfels--is outstanding. As the despondent Penelope, mezzo-soprano Marie Lenormand has a compelling stage presence, though in the performance I saw she seemed restricted by music pitched too low for her. Marc Le Brocq's Ulysses was solid, but he was outdone by tenor Nicholas Phan as Ulysses' son Telemachus--Phan's gorgeous voice and high energy breathed some needed life into the close of act one. In fact, this three-hour work often seemed to drag: the tempos remained languid even in the jubilant concluding reunion scene. Still, there are many moving solos and rousing ensembles, and this is a rare opportunity to see one of opera's earliest works, its startling dissonance enhanced by the period instruments.This is the closing night of the run. a 7:30 PM, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph, 312-704-8414, $20-$120. --Barbara Yaross

CONDENADA One of the most exciting Chicago punk developments in years, Condenada could be our next Los Crudos-: a group that inspires fans and other bands alike with their political fight and fury. These four women are unabashed in their feminist agenda--vocalist Mariam Bastani sings and screams in both Spanish and English about stopping patriarchal power with girl solidarity--and they get better with every show and recording. Tonight is a benefit for Ladyfest Chicago, -a showcase for women's art and activism slated for mid-October; Gamine Thief and Oatcake open. a 8 PM, South Union Arts, 1352 S. Union, southunionarts.com, $10 suggested donation. A --Jessica Hopper

cpierre dorge & new jungle orchestra See Friday. a 8 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552, $12.

cTHE LOCUST It's been nearly four years since the Locust put out their last full-length, Plague Soundscapes--I'm not counting the ten-minute 2005 "album" Safety Second, Body Last--but for me the bloom still hasn't come off that giant buzzing corpse flower of a record. (Granted, that may be because I can only listen to it when I'm already trembling from insomnia.) On New Erections, released in March on Anti-, they cut the number of tracks in half and sometimes break the three-minute mark. The manic, pummeling drums are still foregrounded--last time I saw the band, the kit was on the front line with everybody else--and the arrangements are still facial-tic twitchy, belying the occasional depth of structure in all the grinding and screaming. Songs like "God Wants Us All to Work in Factories" and "Slum Service (Served on the Sly)" even have a new sort of urgency, distinct from the usual incoherent panic and fury--it's as if they actually want you to understand what they're saying. Daughters, Cattle Decapitation, and Bastard Noise open. a 7:30 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $14, $12 in advance. A --Monica Kendrick

cPAGE FRANCE Around the time the last Page France record, Hello Dear Wind, came out, bandleader Michael Nau kept complaining to interviewers about getting pegged as a Christian artist just because of some religious imagery in his lyrics that he wasn't even aware of. It's weird how a little imagery can give people the wrong idea about you like that, especially when you also write songs explicitly about Jesus, tour with Christian bands, and talk up all the other Christian acts you love. I don't know why everyone acts so bashful about this stuff: Sufjan paved the way with gold bricks, and now Christian is the new black. His bitching notwithstanding, Nau sticks with the biblical bits on the forthcoming Page France and the Family Telephone (Suicide Squeeze), a record only slightly less delicate than its predecessor. By losing some of the twinkling majesty that made Sufjan comparisons unavoidable, he and his band have moved closer to inhabiting their own space--they sometimes sound like Death Cab covering Nilsson, true, but it's awful pretty. Headlights headline and Shipwreck opens. a 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10. --Jessica Hopper

cYasunao tone For years Yasunao Tone--a key member of Japan's branch of the 60s Fluxus movement but a New York resident since 1972--had been looking for ways to keep his compositions unpredictable. In 1985 he struck gold: Long before the glitchwerks innovations of folks like Frank Bretschneider and Oval's Markus Popp, he figured out how to override the hardware that translates binary information on CDs so he could play discs "wounded" with Scotch tape and straight pins. This let him turn ordinary CD players into uncontrollable monsters that spray harsh, glitchy noise with no resemblance to his source material (which ranges from classical music to his own experimental work). For his latest album, 2003's Yasunao Tone (Asphodel), he uses software to translate the shapes of kanji characters from the eighth-century poetic text Man'yoshu into binary sound waves. In this rare local appearance, he'll perform "Wounded Kanji Dictionary," which demonstrates the translation technique, as well as a new eight-channel piece called "Paramedia Mix" that involves quick blasts of sounds taken from TV and radio. a 9 PM, 6Odum, 2116 W. Chicago, 312-282-7676, $12. A --Peter Margasak

sunday8

GEBHARD ULLMANN-STEVE SWELL QUARTET Berliner Gebhard Ullmann has a strong individual voice on bass clarinet, three different saxophones, and as many flutes, but in the half dozen or so bands he's played with in recent years, he's tended to focus on just a couple instruments. In this quartet, which weds solidly written melodies to freely improvised exchanges, he favors fleet, elaborate exhortations on tenor sax and bass clarinet. New York trombonist Steve Swell sounds exceptionally soulful playing Ullmann's tunes on the combo's only album, 2004's Desert Songs & Other Landscapes (CIMP), and bassist Hilliard Greene provides an unerring and kinetic foundation, but I'm most excited by drummer Barry Altschul. He recorded liberally in the 60s and 70s--most notably on Dave Holland's Conference of the Birds, one of the great statements of post-Coltrane jazz--but in recent decades he's kept a lower profile. His appearance with this group three years ago at the old Velvet Lounge proved he was still a marvelous paradox behind the kit--an unstoppable force with a light, precise touch. See also Monday. a 6 PM, Velvet Lounge, 67 E. Cermak, 312-791-9050, $15. --Bill Meyer

monday9

CELTIC FROST After watching Celtic Frost go out with a Spinal Tap-ish whisper more than 15 years ago, I had a hard time believing they could make any kind of respectable comeback. But Monotheist (Century Media), their first new album since 1990, is a crushing, doom-inflected anvil of darkness, harkening back to the proto-black metal of Hellhammer (as these guys were known in the early 80s) and expanding on the esoteric electro-metal of Apollyon Sun (Tom Gabriel Fischer's mid-90s band). It's not quite down there with To Mega Therion as infernal masterworks go, but it's a step in the right direction. Type O Negative headline and Brand New Sin open. a 6:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, sold out. A --Monica Kendrick

King Kong Five years have passed since King Kong's last record, but to listen to the new Buncha Beans (Drag City) you'd hardly guess it. Gleefully dorky and danceable, it's more of the same--Ethan Buckler's twisted sing-song, this time on the subject of bugs, surfers, and "Cirque du Blase." Buckler fits into that fine tradition of singers--from Jonathan Richman to Calvin Johnson--who are putting you on at least part of the time, but to ensure that you're laughing with him and not at him, he's found himself a really good party band (bassist Willy Maclean and drummer Peter Townsend). Archaeology and J+J+J open. a 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401. F --Monica Kendrick

cThe Twilight Sad With all the tepid bands coming out of Scotland over the past few years (the cursed Franz Ferdinand, the totally whatever Snow Patrol), it's nice to finally hear a Scottish outfit with some, uh, balls. Though their name and album artwork--mostly illustrations done in the style of an old elementary-school primer--suggest something terminally effete, the Twilight Sad are actually indie-rock classicists who lean a little to the vicious side: they love melody but pit it against a massive rig of distortion pedals. The long, buzzy songs on their full-length debut, Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters (Fat Cat), are ripe with bitterness and lust, recalling two bands only old people care to remember: Seamonsters-era Wedding Present and Juno. Singer James Graham's rich Glaswegian drawl, with its long as and os, holds the whole gorgeous mess together. A Northern Chorus and Arwin open. a 8:30 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $8, 18+. --Jessica Hopper

gebhard ullmann-Steve swell quartet See Sunday. a 7 PM, Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630. F A

tuesday10

cPLAID Lots of electronic groups incorporate elaborate visuals into their live shows, but the UK duo of Andy Turner and Ed Handley, aka Plaid, took things one step further with their most recent release, last year's CD-DVD set Greedy Baby (Warp)--their video designer and director, Bob Jaroc, gets equal billing on the cover. (He's also coming along on this tour.) The discs allow folks who've missed Plaid live to enjoy at least a portion of the meticulously engineered synesthesia their expansive post-techno creates with Jaroc's freaky, wondrous films and animations. The most recent treat for latecomers to Turner and Handley's music, though, is the new retrospective of their pre-Plaid work with Ken Downie as the Black Dog: the double-CD set Book of Dogma (Soma) collects all the group's hard-to-find early-90s releases for a one-two punch of gritty, hip-hop-infused techno. Three DJs from WLUW's weekly Abstract Science program--LSE, Henry Self, and Chris Widman--spin before and after. a 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $15. --J. Niimi

wednesday11

GANGBE BRASS BAND This group from Benin takes more cues from American music than most of its African peers: the plush, bouncy sound borrows from the fatback riffing and funky grooves of contemporary New Orleans brass bands, and the arrangements replace the droning single-chord feel of many African idioms with the advanced harmonic movement of jazz. But as they prove on their most recent album, Whendo (Contre Jour), they haven't forgotten the homeland: they salute the taut Afrobeat of Fela Kuti and simulate the dense, simmering rhythms of Nigerian juju, and the addition of soulful Fon-language chants makes the fusion irresistible. At a venue like this, the players tend to walk out from behind the carefully arranged microphones to march and dance among the audience--a good party knows no borders, and apparently it doesn't require a PA either. The Occidental Brothers Dance Band International opens. a 8 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $15, $12 in advance. --Peter Margasak

HOT 8 BRASS BAND Formed in 1995 by personnel from two defunct New Orleans combos, the Hot 8 Brass Band has faced more than its share of tragedy since. The group weathered Katrina, also appearing in Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke, and in December snare drummer Dinerral Shavers became the third member to be shot and killed. The fact that they're playing this week's shows attests to their resilience, and a live CD recorded at the 2006 New Orleans Jazz Fest (available only as a download from Munckmusic.com) is a vibrant document of the strength of their music--tart horn blasts, rubbery tuba bass lines, and exuberant chanted vocals, all atop a frenetic blur of beats. Like most newer Crescent City brass bands they balance funeral traditions, jazz, and hip-hop (the way they work Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock" into "Get Up" is nothing short of brilliant), but thick, hard funk is ultimately what drives the songs. Following tonight's show, they'll play the House of Blues Back Porch Stage on Friday and Schubas on Sunday. a 8:30 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000 or 866-468-3401. F A --Peter Margasak

thursday12

cPETER BROTZMANN Because Peter Brotzmann has a (well-deserved) reputation as one of the most ferocious free-jazz saxophonists ever to blow a note, when I write about him I tend to emphasize his overlooked skill and sensitivity on more restrained material. The fact is, he's constantly running the gamut, from guttural and hair-raising to pensive and pointillist and back again. A record like last year's Full Blast (Jazzwerkstatt), where he's as relentless as a wrecking ball, is quite unusual for him. Electric bassist Marino Pliakas (of Steamboat Switzerland) and drummer Michael Wertmuller (founder of Alboth!) keep up a fearsome all-out attack that recalls the Japanese bass-drums duo Ruins--there are an overwhelming number of notes, all coming at you very hard--but instead of that outfit's proggy precision they opt for an instinctual improvised approach where the principal modes seem to be "surge" and "surge harder." Even so--and this says all you need to know about the power of Brotzmann's playing--they have to struggle to keep from getting drowned out. Notwithstanding the absence of an electric guitar, they make me think of Brotzmann's old band Last Exit--or rather what Last Exit should've sounded like. Cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm opens the show with his Valentine Trio, which now includes bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Frank Rosaly. a 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12, $10 in advance. --Peter Margasak

CLIPD BEAKS You know that pleasant lull that kicks in on a long, sunny road trip, when you stop feeling compelled to watch the landscape unfold and instead just settle into the underwater buzz of your too-quiet mix tape blending with the whoosh of the road? That's what Clipd Beaks sound like. This Oakland combo combines blubbery bass and muffled, feathery guitar with quasi-tribal drumming, but everything's blanketed with a soft layer of howly psych noise--blue-desert-sky synth swoops, canyon-echo vocals--that bleeds the aggression right out of the music. Instead of making skid marks on the highway, their songs leave a floating trail of twinkly little diamonds in the air. The dark and lovely Indian Jewelry headlines; Clipd Beaks, Pink Reason, and Eyes Ears Nose open. a 9 PM, Mr. City, e-mail mister.city@gmail.com or call 773-354-4286 for address, $5 suggested donation. A --Liz Armstrong

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