An Ache for the Distance by the Atlas Moth
An Ache for the Distance by the Atlas Moth

METAL | A new album from the Atlas Moth and another visit from Deceased

Chicago five-piece the Atlas Moth released their second full-length, An Ache for the Distance, Tue 9/20 on Profound Lore, and I’m pleased to report that it maintains the band’s distinctively excellent sound. On one hand you’ve got bluesy, swaggering sludge of the Slow Southern Steel persuasion, and on the other you’ve got the sort of austere and crystalline guitar ambience favored by Isis fans and the beardy contingent of the black-metal community—a duality mirrored by the pairing of paint-scouring screams and clean, melodic vocals. In a departure from their first album, though, the Atlas Moth wrote most of the material in the studio, where they got snowed in midsession by February’s blizzard. (“Figuring out how to smoke was definitely an issue,” says guitarist and vocalist Stavros Giannopoulos.) This intensive process, directed by the band’s synth and guitar player, Andrew Ragin—he’s been lead producer on both of their records—encouraged a focus and clarity that seems to have led to tighter songs. “We are a loud band with a lot going on,” Giannopoulos says, “so it’s not always the easiest to figure out what you should be playing in a rehearsal room with amps cranked up.”

The Atlas Morth are happy to be working with Chris Bruni at Profound Lore—this is their first release with the label, which has quickly become one of the most respected in underground metal—but they’re not expecting the association to have a transformative effect on their career. “My father told me to hope in one hand and shit in the other,” Giannopoulos says. “So instead, we are just going to do what we have always done. Get in the fuckin’ van and not come home until we are ready to make a new record.”

If you aren’t going to see 40 Watt Sun or Rwake on Saturday, you’ll want to be at the Red Line Tap for Deceased. These Virginia death-metal veterans, who in 1990 became one of the earliest signings to Relapse Records, recently released their first full-length in six years, Surreal Overdose (Patac), a gleefully ghoulish epic of mad-scientist prog and throw-the-horns thrash. “This will be Deceased’s third show in three years in Chicago—all at Metal Up Your Tap!” says booker Trevor Fisher. “We’ve become their exclusive annual Chicago stop.” The concert is $8 and starts at 9 PM. —Philip Montoro

ELECTRONIC | Chicago transplant Nicholas Szczepanik makes his local debut

Sound artist Nicholas Szczepanik plays the Empty Bottle on Sun 10/2, the closing night of this year’s Adventures in Modern Music festival—only his third performance ever, and his first since becoming a Chicagoan in November 2010. (He moved here impulsively from the Baltimore area because he wanted a change of scenery and he’d always enjoyed his visits.) He’s been invited to do several shows in Chicago, but he’s always had to decline. “More important,” he says, “I’m finally forcing myself to perform live because it’s the only way I’m going to get over my stage fright.”

This summer Szczepanik, 24, released Please Stop Loving Me (on Streamline, the label run by acclaimed German sound artist Christoph Heemann), a single 47-minute track of ethereal drift. Everything I’ve heard by Szczepanik is essentially drone music, with a patient but clear sense of development, but he covers a huge range within that territory—from serene to violent, from airy to dense. A steadily morphing, organlike hum, Please Stop Loving Me sounds sweeter and more peaceful than his previous work. Though it’s only his third proper album, he’s released tons of music over the past five years, including an ambitious yearlong subscription series called Ante Algo Azul that he started in January—subscribers get a new piece in handmade packaging every month.

Szczepanik, who’s pursuing a BFA at the School of the Art Institute (with concentrations in Sound and Art & Technology), says that his shifts in tone from one release to the next are neither explicitly premeditated nor simply for the sake of change. “It doesn’t have so much to do with spontaneity as it does with my mood, emotions, memories, recent experiences, what I’m reading, or even the weather outside when I look out the window from my studio.” Due later this year are a new solo album called The Truth of Transience (Isounderscore) and Luz (Streamline), a collaboration with Argentinian musician Federico Durand under the name Every Hidden Color. —Peter Margasak

VENUES | Live music comes to the Burlington

It’s impossible to take five steps in Logan Square without running into someone in a band, but there aren’t a lot of legal venues that host live music on the regular. The Burlington (3425 W. Fullerton)—where, full disclosure, I DJ occasionally—has only been using about half of its first-floor space since it opened four years ago, and it will give the neighborhood one more stage when it unveils a live room next month. “Basically the bar wanted to be able to have the capabilities of having more live shows and private parties and dance parties,” says Greg Dandino, who co-owns the Burlington with his brother Chris. “So we sort of tweaked what we already had.” The biggest tweak is the installation of a PA system designed by local audio engineer Tony Lazzara, who plays guitar in Bloodiest. Dandino stresses that the Burlington will be far from another Bottle, though—the room and the bookings are much more modest. Shows are tentatively scheduled to start the first weekend in October, and will include avant-garde metal outfit Rabid Rabbit, scruffy indie rockers Darling, and maybe a country hoedown.—Miles Raymer

Philip Montoro

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. Philip has played scrap metal in Lozenge, drummed with the Disasters, the Afflictions, and Brilliant Pebbles, and sung for the White Outs. He wrote the column Beer and Metal from 2012 till 2015, and hopes to do so again one day. You can also follow him on Twitter.