I know LA’s Lucky Dragons only through some of their recordings, an ecumenical bricolage of laptop fuckery, sing-songy pop, broken-down folk, and plenty of unidentifiable noise and clutter. The band, which currently consists of founder Luke Fischbeck, Sarah Rara, and a large, revolving cast of collaborators, has created a cottage industry of small-run releases–check out their discography and you’ll see that most of their catalog is out of print. But after listening to three CDs I’m not sure that the records are really the point. Though Fischbeck can certainly write some catchy tunes, Lucky Dragons are more about process and communalism.

Live performances seem to be the heart and soul of the project. According to the band’s Web site, “Lucky Dragons shows are about the birthing of new and temporary creatures–creating equal-power situations in which audience members cooperate amongst themselves, to build a fragile network of digital signals connected by touching on the skin.”

The bit about the skin isn’t a metaphor. Fischbeck encourages listeners to crowd around his jerry-rigged setup and hands some of them an electronic contraption of his own devising that’s connected to his laptop; it makes sounds when the person holding it creates an electrical circuit by touching the skin of another person. I don’t know exactly what kinds of sounds it makes or how Fischbeck manipulates them, but the group’s recordings are so good that not even cynical me can dismiss this technique as art-school cyber-hippie nonsense.

Here’s a wonderfully odd music video that goes a long way in explaining the sound and aesthetic of the group:


Lucky Dragons, making their first trip to Chicago, play several times this weekend. On Friday at 10 PM they’re joined by Hecuba and Pit Er Pat (sure to preview material from their forthcoming Thrill Jockey album High Time) at High Concept Laboratories, 1401 W. Wabansia. On Saturday they’ll play with Hecuba at AV-aerie. They’ll show off their visual-art side with their project Sumi Ink Club at Golden Age in Pilsen at 12:30 PM on Sunday (see Bert Stabler’s Critic’s Choice), and that night at 7 PM they’ll play again with Hecuba (as well as Nick Butcher and Younger) at Berry United Methodist Church (4754 N. Leavitt). The band’s site also says something about a show at North Park University on Monday, but I can’t track down the details online.

Today’s playlist:

John Zorn, Filmworks XIX—The Rain Horse (Tzadik)
Nine Horses, Money for All (Samadhi Sound)
Ersatz Musika, Voice Letter (Asphalt Tango)
Brenton Wood, Brenton Wood’s 18 Best (Original Sound)
Enrico Rava & Stefano Bollani, The Third Man (ECM)