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ST. LAWRENCE STRING QUARTET AND ANTON KUERTI

The St. Lawrence Quartet, a Canadian group founded in 1989, has earned a reputation for spontaneity and informal persuasiveness. Their latest CD, of three Shostakovich quartets, stresses the music’s humanity; it’s less menacing than some recordings, and the playing–anchored by cellist Christopher Costanza, a former member of the Chicago String Quartet and the Chicago Chamber […]

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MEKONS

To record the new Natural (Quarterstick), this 30-year-old transatlantic combo convened in a farmhouse in the English countryside. The pastoral surroundings seem to have rubbed off on the wonderfully ragged, mostly acoustic music, but the album is hardly idyllic: darkness and doom lurk everywhere, and the lyrics return again and again to our powerlessness in […]

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Chemical Brothers

The late-90s big-beat fad pushed dance music into the U.S. mainstream–in the process providing car manufacturers with a decade’s worth of music for their, err, racier commercials–but few of its anthems, and fewer of the musicians behind them, sound particularly good today. The Chemical Brothers are a notable exception, proving themselves time and again to […]

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Adventures in Modern Music

The London-based avant-garde monthly the Wire, which has increased steadily in gloss and sales over the years while remaining committed to very unglossy music, recognizes how much Chicago has given it in terms of material. It’s hosted a three- or four-day blowout at the Empty Bottle every year since 2003; this fall’s it’s the magazine’s […]

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Aesop Rock

Aesop Rock is a man of ideas. So many, in fact, that it’s hard to keep track of them all. He hasn’t released a lot of records in the ten years he’s been around, but unpacking his dense lyrics could keep a dedicated fan busy for a lifetime–and with the addition of his latest, None […]

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SILVER APPLES

I have to admit I did a double take when I first saw this listing: they’re tempting fate again? The history of Silver Apples, the New York ur-electronica duo famed (by indie-psych standards, at least) for two almost painfully great late-60s albums, is so riddled with bad luck that even their triumphs seem almost cruel […]

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ACID MOTHERS GURU GURU

Contemporary psychedelia often raises the question, hasn’t inner space been explored enough already? Well, yes and no. The psychedelic experience, like the religious one, is unique to the individual–while there’s no denying the commonalities, everyone interprets it his own way. Japanese guitarist Kawabata Makoto takes cues from past masters in pursuing his own voyages and […]

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KEN VANDERMARK

In Musician, Dan Kraus’s new documentary about saxophonist and clarinetist Ken Vandermark, there’s a moment when he sings an extraordinarily complex figure to his band–and then the film cuts to the band playing it back at him. Though Vandermark’s a veteran free improviser, “free” doesn’t mean “left up to chance”–even in solo performance, he always […]

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MUHAL RICHARD ABRAMS

The defining spirit and driving force of the AACM, pianist Muhal Richard Abrams set out on his own path more than 40 years ago, believing that compliance with the artistic and economic norms of the jazz world would prevent him from making the choices that most interested him. As the decades passed and those groundbreaking […]

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A SUNNY DAY IN GLASGOW

Remember that Remington ad where the guy liked the shaver so much he bought the company? I can’t tell you how many times I played A Sunny Day in Glasgow’s self-released The Sunniest Day Ever EP the night I brought it home last winter, but by the time the sky had turned robin’s egg blue […]

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Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus

Verdi’s Requiem was inspired by the deaths of two of Italy’s beacons of culture and identity: Rossini and Manzoni. The seed of the work–the concluding “Libera Me”–was Verdi’s contribution to a failed attempt at honoring Rossini with a requiem written jointly by 13 leading Italian composers. In late operas like Aida and Otello, Verdi’s music […]

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A.R. RAHMAN

Dubbed the “Asian Mozart” by the Daily Telegraph, 41-year-old composer A.R. Rahman redefined contemporary Indian film music in the early 90s, transforming a style that was formulaic and drowning in kitsch into something diverse and sophisticated, infused with everything from Baroque strings to pop guitar to dancehall beats. A student of Carnatic music who’d played […]

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SIR RICHARD BISHOP

In February we lost a great musician and a great band at once: after drummer Charles Gocher died of cancer at 54, his coconspirators of 25 years, the Bishop brothers, laid the Sun City Girls name to rest. Guitarist Sir Richard Bishop has been growing his own garden for a long time, though; not unlike […]

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ADULT., TUSSLE

Perhaps the truest line in the verbose manifesto that accompanies Adult.’s fourth album, Why Bother? (Thrill Jockey), is the relatively concise “We lack a casualness.” With the urgent restlessness and monomaniacal focus of speed freaks, husband-and-wife duo Adam Lee Miller and Nicola Kuperus cut away the bullshit of new-wave revivalism to produce graceful, darkwavey interludes […]