The Human Quena Orchestra. Photo by Elliott Thomas.
When you think 'Free Monday Night Show,' chances are a lineup like this isn't the first one that comes to your mind. The Empty Bottle (1035 N. Western) has created a rock-solid lineup of bands, incorporating doom, drone, industrial, and metal(ic) crunch and thud, and put them together on a free Monday (July 13), or as I like to call it, I-get-to-drink-eight-dollars-extra-worth-of-beer-night.
SF duo The Human Quena Orchestra, touring in support of their second album, The Politics of the Irredeemable (Crucial Blast), are joined by two local acts, one seasoned and one newly minted, and a NYC solo project making her debut in Chicago.
Quena's Ryan Unks, formerly of Creation Is Crucifixion, formed his new project (originally solo, now duo) as a mathematically precise, noise-engorged doom unit, with clanking percussion, swirls of keyboard and oscillator stuffed into the cracks between thick, muted riffs, like Godflesh played at Melvins speed, then dragged through one hundred Black Metal keyboard intros. Produced by James Plotkin, Politics trades the sharp barbs of Quena's debut, Means Without Ends, for a pulverizing, agonizing, but ultimately narcotic and hallucinatory blend of digital shimmer, monolithic pound, and shrieking vocals. Lyrics are straightforward, but pointed ('Hope is a fallacy/pacified, we eat ourselves away from the inside/hands full of life, choke this culture/this legacy is not ours, it is ours to destroy'), though completely unintelligible within the music, unless you're reading along. Crucial Blast's striking gatefold package compliments the music's matted gloom.
While HQO cast their parched cries over the rubble of civilization, Chicago's Locrian sneak back into the abandoned buildings, post-apocalypse, and play to the spirits left behind. Their latest recording -- a vinyl version of the recently-released CD Drenched Lands (CD version on Small Doses; vinyl via Chicago's Bloodlust! label) is sure to go fast. It's an edition of 200 copies, pressed on clear vinyl and housed in a beautiful silk-screened/die-cut fold-over sleeve (Chicago's own Dexterity Press have the honor). Fans who already bought the CD version may still want to have some cash on hand, as the LP version includes a 3" CDr containing 18 minutes of otherwise unreleased material, an expanded version of Locrian featuring Andrew Shearer of Velnias, and Mark Solotroff of Bloodyminded, The Fortieth Day, and others, recorded live on WLUW's 'Something Else' radio program.
Solotroff's long list of active bands grows one longer tonight, as he debuts a new quintet, Anatomy of Habit, a group built on the chassis of my beloved, now-departed doom metal exemplars Animal Law. Habit features Solotroff on vocals, Blake Edwards (Vertonen) on metal percussion, Dylan Posa (Cheer-Accident) on drums, Greg Ratajczak on guitar, and Kenny Rasmussen on bass (the latter two originally slated to record Animal Law's debut). As for what it sounds like, your guess is as good as mine...the band's Myspace page says, under the Sounds Like section: "Maybe you can tell us after we release some music..."
Opening up the evening's bloodbaths is NYC's Pharmakon, one Margaret Chardiet. So far, discogs.com lists only two releases for this industrial/noise act, one a forthcoming EP on Solotroff's own Bloodlust! label, the other a three-way split double tape on Jeff Witscher's estimable Callow God label.
As mentioned above, the show's free, and starts at Rock O'Clock (aka 9:00 or thereabouts).— Chris Sienko