Although Greg Davis has spent his life in or around two major American metropolises, his music has always been distinctly pastoral. A native of the Chicago burbs and a graduate of DePaul (where he studied jazz composition), Davis later moved to Boston to attend the New England Conservatory of Music. It was there that he combined his interest in field recordings with his affinity for the work of Brian Wilson, John Cage, Aphex Twin, Stevie Wonder, and the Native Tongues posse in a series of home-recorded Pro Tools experiments. Returning to Chicago in 2002, Davis released Arbor (Carpark), an album defined as much by the timeless muse of Nick Drake (who’s memorably sampled on “Nicholas”) as by modern technology. Arbor made the shy Davis something of an unlikely star, as he was quickly claimed as a figurehead by those in the nascent folktronica and laptop folk movements. But there’s nary a sample on his latest, Curling Pond Woods, an organic-sounding three-part suite named for the bucolic Crystal Lake subdivision he was raised in. He augments his signature symphony of gently plucked acoustic guitar and natural sounds–water seems to be a favorite theme–with touches of brass, woodwind, and pedal steel and even takes a couple rare lead vocal turns, applying his reedy croak to covers of the Beach Boys’ “At My Window” and the Incredible String Band’s “Air.” Davis has mostly performed on a computer, solo and with Keith Fullerton Whitman, but this CD-release show also marks the local debut of his new five-piece band. Radian, Collection of Colonies of Bees (an offshoot of Pele), and Casino Versus Japan open. Wednesday, March 31, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499.

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