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Chicago Underground Duo | Synesthesia (Thrill Jockey)
70s Miles Davis anyone? Howabout the ethno-rock of Kraut legends Embryo, or maybe a few liquid doses of Lull/Scorn-style isolationist ambience to make for a smooth segue or two? It all works here, and well, given the high level of playmanship involved. If one wishes to thank post-rock for any solitary contribution to the underground rock discourse, it may as well be for the near single-handed devastation of the formerly omnipotent and self-destructive paradigm which stated that players worth their cred needn't bother learning their instruments. It seems that proficiency no longer signals "sell-out," though it may still confer "geek" status on those deemed true musos. So, despite inane claims by holdouts like Tortoise, who once claimed in the pages of Wire that punk, not prog, most informed their music, there's room again for musicianship amongst musicians. As far as I know, despite making use of Tortoise's John McEntire here, C.U.D. make no such ludicrous claims regarding their influences. They do do one hell of a job fabricating atmospheres from vibes, percussion, coronet, found sounds and electronics. They know enough to dip into the sounds of the masters (Davis, Morton Subotnic) without falling in head first and losing sight of their own contributions. This makes for compelling listening.

G.C. Weeks
CWAS #6 - Autumn 2000

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