ELECTRONIC | Debuts by Sarah Weis and Supreme Cuts

Last week Plustapes issued Musik & Plus, the debut cassette from eccentric local singer, songwriter, and synthesizer artist Sarah Weis (left). It’s not her first recorded work—she’s made soundtracks for a couple B movies produced by i^3 Hypermedia, a company she cofounded—but the 25-song effort is her first proper solo release. Weis started making synth music after buying a Moog Prodigy on eBay in fall 2004, and about a year ago began uploading her Devo-influenced electronic ditties to SoundCloud, where they caught the ear of Plustapes co-owner Kumar McMillan. Weis will celebrate the release with a show Wed 6/15; write to mochiscicle@gmail.com for details.

Last week newbie NYC label Small Plates announced it would release Trouble, the debut EP from Chicago electronic smooth-jam act Supreme Cuts (right). Mike Perry and Austin Keultjes have worked together for close to two years (they were both in Dirty Diamonds too), but Supreme Cuts started out making sample-based hip-hop tracks, none of which they formally released. The duo grew tired of that style and set off in a direction that Perry jokes was determined by two songs: Ginuwine’s “Differences” and Keith Sweat’s “Make It Last Forever.” That said, their first tune, “Amnesia” (which they started recording at Perry’s apartment during February’s blizzard), sounds more like Burial’s moody dubstep than traditional R&B. Supreme Cuts’ four-song EP will come out digitally and on vinyl in July, accompanied by a DVD of four music videos.—Leor Galil

EXPERIMENTAL | Brian Labycz revives his Peira label

Chicago trio the Green Pasture Happiness, who perform Tue 5/17 at Elastic, released their first official album, Aut Disce aut Discede, in January, after gigging around town for three years. On the disc Daniel Fandiño plays turntable and electronics, Brian Labycz plays modular synthesizer, and Aaron Zarzutzki plays “no-output turntable,” using friction from the rotating platter to coax sounds from cymbals, springs, Styrofoam cups, and other objects; their abstract improvisations create jagged, creaky, delicate noise from a combination of odd machinery, crackling textures, and ersatz environmental ambience. As fascinating as the music is, though, there’s something even more noteworthy about Aut Disce aut Discede: it’s the first release on Labycz’s Peira label in more than three years.

Labycz, who also books the long-­running Monday-night improv series at Myopic with Zarzutzki and curates the Protest Heaven series at Heaven Gallery with bass clarinetist Jeff Kimmel, launched Peira in fall 2007 with two albums: one by his duo with bassist Jason Roebke and another of a trio with Roebke, trumpeter Nate Wooley, and percussionist Tim Barnes. Both featured distinctive CD sleeves designed and printed by Nick Butcher and onetime Reader employee Nadine Nakanishi, collectively known as Sonnenzimmer. Then Labycz got sidetracked by touring and personal issues, and the label fell dormant until four months ago. Upon relaunching Peira, he decided to focus on the music rather than on treating his releases as art objects, figuring that the tracks would mostly end up imported to iTunes anyway. Peira has put out four titles this year, inexpensively printed and with a standardized design scheme. They’re six dollars via peira.net, half what the first two cost.

The other recent Peira releases are full of the same kind of high-­level abstraction as the Green Pasture Happiness disc, though their methods vary: the music might be guided by loose notation, as on Colectivos (a trio of reedist Guillermo Gregorio, Roebke, and Labycz), or by free improvisation, as on Tilting (a session with Kimmel, trumpeter Jacob Wick, and musical-saw wiz David Moré). Most recently the label issued Historically Innocent and Sexually Indifferent by the FanLab Duo, aka Fandiño and Labycz; due this fall are a solo album by Wooley that focuses on various extended techniques and a duo album with Zarzutzki and cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm.—Peter Margasak

METAL | New albums from Weekend Nachos and Novembers Doom

When Liz Armstrong wrote about local powerviolence goofballs Weekend Nachos for the Reader in 2007, she said they seemed to have found their sound “deep in the colon of a carnivore.” The band’s raw, bludgeoning style hasn’t changed much since, but plenty else has: they’ve moved from DeKalb to Chicago and reshuffled their lineup, and their third full-length, Worthless, comes out on CD this Tuesday via Relapse, one of the biggest labels in metal. (Deep Six is handling the vinyl.) Founding members John “Snyder” Hoffman (vocals) and Andy Nelson (guitar) remain aboard, and the current rhythm section—bassist Brian Laude and drummer Drew Brown—has been in place since 2008.

Brian Laude (left) and John “Snyder” Hoffman of Weekend Nachos

Weekend Nachos play a release party for Worthless in Rogers Park on Tue 6/7, which might be your last chance to see a studded battle jacket with nachos—chicago on the back before it gets too warm for a sane person to wear such a thing; write weekendxnachos@gmail.com for details. Leeds grindcore act the Afternoon Gentlemen provides main support. “Yes, we befriended another band with a terrible name,” says Laude. “From another country, no less.”

Also out this week—May 10, to be exact—is Aphotic (The End), the eighth album from Chicago dark-metal veterans Novembers Doom, who play Fri 5/13 at Reggie’s Rock Club. Front man Paul Kuhr, the band’s only constant member since its inception in 1989, moves expertly between a clean, authoritative tenor and a surprisingly articulate growl, and the music covers an equally wide range, from big-black-­locomotive death metal to weeping-­willow acoustic doom. Classical violinist Rachel Barton Pine, who also plays metal in Earthen Grave, guests on two songs; Anneke van Giersbergen, former front woman of the Gathering and stunt voice on Devin Townsend’s 2009 album Addicted, sings on the lovely “What Could Have Been.” —Philip Montoro>

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.