Combining savvy marketing with an interesting concept, Chicago’s Atavistic label presents a showcase of solo guitarists. Lee Ranaldo, Elliott Sharp, Bruce Anderson, Rick Rizzo, and Steve Wynn come from disparate musical backgrounds, and their approaches to playing guitar vary significantly, but Atavistic’s put them all on the same stage. Ranaldo, of course, is a charter member of Sonic Youth; his new pair of solo-guitar CDs are painted with varied shades of gray sound and rippling with unusual textures. East Jesus is an abstract sonic travelogue that spans a decade of intriguing, difficult work, and Scriptures of the Golden Eternity (Drunken Fish/Father Yod) collects a few longer works. A prolific experimentalist, Sharp’s been heard most frequently of late fronting the avant-rock band Carbon, but he’s had plenty of experience working solo. He’s also concerned with pure sound and texture, but his work tends to be more extroverted and cacophonous than Ranaldo’s. Anderson brilliantly bridged punk rock and prog rock in MX-80, whose first two recordings have recently been reissued on one CD, Big Hits/Hard Attack. The band still exists, but of late he’s veered more toward the baroque, texturally fascinating fusion style of Siamese Stepbrothers, his all-star band with, among others, Henry Kaiser and Lukas Ligeti, son of composer Gyorgy Ligeti. Chicagoans know Rizzo’s explosive guitar playing from his leadership of Eleventh Dream Day, a band that takes major inspiration from the earliest work of Wynn’s first band, the Dream Syndicate. Wynn’s suffered lately as a singer-songwriter–on his own and in Gutterball–and it’ll be interesting to see if he takes his guitar back to the extremes captured on the Dream Syndicate’s scorching live CD The Day Before Wine and Roses. It could be a rather uneven affair, but it’s guaranteed to be compelling and unusual. Saturday, 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 489-3160.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Nancy Perlman, Dominik Huber, Brad Miller.