Vaskula: Michael DeStefano, Samu Rahn, John Becker, Jeremy Eberhard
  • Michael DeStefano
  • Vaskula: Michael DeStefano, Samu Rahn, John Becker, Jeremy Eberhard

When Marek Cimochowicz founded Vukari (my pick for “Best Black-Metal Studio Project to Hit the Stage” in the Reader‘s 2014 Best of Chicago issue), he was working alone and recruiting the occasional hired gun to cover a part he couldn’t. Since then he’s assembled a regular live lineup that includes guitarist John Becker—and Becker has just completed a similar trajectory with his gothy synth-pop project Vaskula. He released a self-titled Vaskula EP in August 2014, on which he played almost everything himself—the only exceptions were guest vocals from Elizabeth Wadium and drums by Vincent M. Ippolito. Now he’s got a four-piece band, and Vaskula will hit the stage for the first time on Friday at Cobra Lounge.

Becker also plays in local atmospheric metal band Austaras, and since 2011 he’s been appearing on recordings by Appalachian black-metal act Panopticon (now based in Minnesota). But he describes Vaskula as “rooted in classics such as Berlin-era Bowie, Kraftwerk, and Joy Division, as well as modern contemporaries Chromatics and LowCityRain.” And after Gossip Wolf compared the EP to Peter Murphy and M83, he commented, “Combining M83/modern synthy stuff and the older 80s influence is a lot of what inspires me for Vaskula.”

Joining Becker onstage, where he’ll play guitar and sing, will be drummer Michael DeStefano (also of Vukari), bassist Samu Rahn (from the Living Fields and Cairn), and keyboardist Jeremy Eberhard. Friday’s show is billed as a release party for the Vaskula EP, mostly because there hasn’t been an earlier show to bill that way; Milwaukee postrock band Arctic Sleep headlines.

For now the EP is available only on CD (and digitally, of course), but a vinyl pressing is in the works. Becker says he has more than half of a full-length album written too.

This new activity from Vaskula notwithstanding, Vukari hasn’t gone dormant. The band headlines LiveWire Lounge on Thu 4/16.

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid and another in 2021 for Leor Galil's history of Neo, and he’s also split three national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and two (in 2020 and 2022) for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. You can also follow him on Twitter.