JAZZ | Peter Margasak
Local label Peira Records just released Discus and Plumbing, a terrific improvised session between Chicago cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and Swedish percussionist Raymond Strid. The album is the latest in a steady stream of recent recordings Lonberg-Holm has made with Europeans—an outpouring that includes one of the best albums he’s ever done, I Know You (482 Music). This gorgeous collection of art songs, with music and lyrics by Lonberg-Holm, was recorded by an otherwise all-Swedish quintet called Seval, whose members include guitarist David Stackenas and singer Sofia Jernberg. A few days after this interview, Lonberg-Holm left for yet another extended visit to Europe.
How much time have you spent playing in Europe in the last year or two? I haven’t really added it up, but I’ve been going several times a year for the last decade. I think last year I was there about three or four months. A number of the projects that make the trips possible are with U.S. musicians, but over the years I have gotten to meet and play with a lot of Europeans. I like to try to play with them there when I’m going to already be there. It also partly comes out of a desire to not spend too much time on planes. So when I have two tours that have a gap in between—if the gap isn’t too long—I let folks I like know, and we try to set up something. Some of those gigs don’t really pay well, but since I’m already in Europe, it makes more sense than coming home for a week or ten days, suffering jet lag and carbon karma, and going back again.
I’m assuming that you end up over there partly due to getting more respectable fees and opportunities than you do here in the U.S.? Certainly. Like musicians since the beginning of written history, I go where I can work. If I was wealthy I might still do it, but I might be more like [Giacinto] Scelsi or [Henry] Kaiser and stay home or go scuba diving. If it wasn’t so complex, I wouldn’t mind just living in Europe, but I hate bureaucracy and nothing brings more of that faster than trying to get residency abroad.
HIP-HOP | Miles Raymer
Party-starting juke-rap trio BBU became fixtures on the local club scene in 2009 with “Chi Don’t Dance.” Their new mix tape, bell hooks (the boys aren’t shy about their politics), comes out February 21 via New York fashion line Mishka and Diplo’s Mad Decent label, and it’s already introducing them to a broader audience thanks to a couple of preview tracks. I talked to BBU’s Mike “Illekt” Milam about it.
So tell me about making the new record. We try to keep it with the homies and stuff, get our friends making stuff first, and then reach out. We’re really not too worried about getting huge features or anything, because I think it’s all about the music anyways. If the music sounds good, it’s going to be good. They’re saying, like, Pac made some of his records with all the B-list producers on Death Row, and they’re all like amazing records still, you know?
It seems like the mood is a little toned down. We tried to do more of a mixture than before. There’s still a couple high-speed tracks on there. Like, we wanted to progress and keep moving forward. You know, we love that sound and we’re not going to steer just totally away from it; we’re always going to go back to it. It is what defines us, but we don’t want to be just defined by one thing.
There’s some guest spots on the new record, right? Yeah, we’ve got Mic Terror, he’s going to be on there. We’ve got Das Racist, of course. I think a lot of people have already heard that one; it’s been out for a while. And like the huge one with GLC.
How was it working with GLC? It was really awesome. It was really cool. We actually had a chance to—he came out to my neighborhood, over where I live by Humboldt Park, and we filmed it in front of my mom’s house. And it was cool—my mom and my aunt were there and they were like, “Man, that GLC is a real nice, smooth guy,” and I was like, “Yeah, he’s a pimp.”
ROCK | Kevin Warwick
It’s always nice when you stumble across an overlooked yet supremely promising local act. Absolutely Not hit my radar in December, when I was looking for bright spots in the bleak live-music landscape of the holidays. Led by do-it-all front man Donnie Moore, the band plays poppy, infectious quick-hit garage punk with a charmingly snottyz “nyah-nyah-nyah” sneer. The new eight-song Extended EP is easily the band’s best release, endearingly dorky and loaded with minute-and-a-half pileups of hooks upon hooks. Moore, who moved here from Orlando just over four years ago, admits that he’s been plugging along ever since, waiting for any sort of attention from the Chicago scene. With any luck this EP will do it.
The self-released album was recorded in a couple of days, and it’s the first to feature other members of the Absolutely Not live band. “I wanted it to be truer to the live set,” Moore says. “So Jenna [Horwath] played drums and my sister [Madison Moore] played some keyboard lines. With older stuff, I’d throw a lot of distortion in and make it sound more lo-fi and crunchy.” Absolutely Not plays a release show for Extended on Fri 2/17 at the Burlington with Vamos and Dumpster Babies. Moore will be hawking CDs for five bucks.