Hide Credit: Nicola Kuperus

Seth Sher has been a fixture of the weirdo Chicago underground for close to two decades, holding down the drums for bands such as Coughs, Ga’an, and Zath, as well as his solo project Psychic Steel. Describing Sher’s drumming as mesmerizing sells his skill set short; his technique combines topsy-turvy prog-rock dexterity with thrash-metal intensity in a head-spinning juxtaposition of heaviness and headiness. That’s why it’s so funny to me that in Hide, his duo with vocalist Heather Gabel (and labor of love for the past five years), Sher plays absolutely no drums—all his beats are programmed. But even via electronics, Sher uses his gift for creating challenging rhythms to create knotty, intense industrial soundscapes, building the perfect foundation for Gabel’s unhinged, confrontational vocals. Hide have typically presented their music through layers of fuzz and sonic dirt, but on the brand-new Hell Is Here (the duo’s second record on Dais), they’ve stripped away that obscurity, instead hammering out each song with a clarity that puts their darkness on vivid display. The drum machines and synths hit harder than ever, while in the foreground Gabel delivers her strongest, most revealing performance yet.   v