Soft Circle is the current solo project of percussionist Hisham Bharoocha, perhaps better known as the cofounder and long-time drummer of Black Dice. He left that band a few years ago and seemed to take their sense of focus with him; their carefully measured excursions into abstract, swirling noise over deep, almost tribal grooves devolved into a kind of formless chaos. And Bharoocha’s debut as Soft Circle, Full Bloom—released earlier this year on Scott Herren’s Eastern Developments—features the sort of hypnotic, drum-driven, meditative ruckus you no longer get from Black Dice. Bharoocha sings wordlessly, using all of his limbs on his kit while controlling a guitar and synthesizers through various electronic triggers. I’m not sure how he does it. More recently, he was instrumental in the staging of the Boredoms’ 77-drummer opus, 77BoaDrum.
An interest in tribal, mesmerizing rhythms—the kind both musician and listener can get lost in—is something Bharoocha shares with Chicagoan Robert AA Lowe, who performs under the name Lichens. Lowe doesn’t bother with beats, but his singing and guitar playing achieve a similar effect, a trance-inducing intensity built from minimal figures. He and Bharoocha actually play in a band together called Zanzo that also features Tyondai Braxton (Battles) and Herren (aka Prefuse73). I don’t know when that group officially started, but Lowe has been working with some of those guys since at least 2005.
A few months ago Lowe released the excellent second Lichens album, Omns (Kranky), which was preceded by his fine collaboration with White/Light, White/Lichens (Holy Mountain). Tomorrow night Lichens and Soft Circle (Locks and High Places round out the bill) perform at the Empty Bottle—don’t be surprised if Lowe and Bharoocha help one another out.
Super Mama Djombo, s/t (Cobiana)
Scientist, Rids the World of the Evil Curse of the Vampires (Greensleeves)
Tony Borders, Cheaters Never Win (Soulscape)
Mott the Hoople, Mott (Columbia/Legacy)
Tomatito, Aguadulce (Universal Music Latino/Planet Rhythm)