WHPK's next Pictures and Sounds is Saturday | Bleader

WHPK's next Pictures and Sounds is Saturday


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Bill Orcutt
  • Bill Orcutt
Every year at about this time, University of Chicago radio station WHPK (88.5 FM) puts together a terrific program of experimental music and experimental cinema called Pictures and Sounds. This year's is on Saturday night at the school's Film Studies Center. The presenters have topped themselves by booking guitarist Bill Orcutt, who's making only his third second area appearance since the demise of his 90s band Harry Pussy (Orcutt played a riveting, visceral show at the Museum of Contemporary Art as part of the Adventures in Modern Music festival in 2010). Since reemerging as a solo artist Orcutt has ditched wild noise rock for thorny, knotty acoustic fingerpicking playing that's equally raw and primal—his guitar style makes vintage John Fahey sound like smooth jazz.

On his second solo record, last year's How the Thing Sings (Editions Mego), the production pushes his high-velocity six-string tangles into the red; they unspool like skeins of barbed wire. On most pieces Orcutt moans and whoops along wordlessly, extending the sounds of his guitar. "Cathartic" is one music criticism's most abused adjectives, but no other word suffices to describe Orcutt's songs—at the end of each one, you feel as drained as he seems to be. When I saw him play live, I was certain he was having a meltdown, though he never lost the thread musically.

Orcutt will be joined by Ohio duo Moth Cock and Chicago's own Wume. Admission is free, but I recommend arriving early if you want a seat.

Below you can listen to the title track of Orcutt's latest album.

Bill Orcutt, "How the Thing Sings"

Today's playlist:

Sun Circle, Tapes (Autumn)
The Ovations Featuring Louis Williams, One in a Million: The XL and Sounds of Memphis Recordings (Kent)
Frank Rosolino, Kenton Presents Frank Rosolino (Capitol)
Orchestra Harlow, Heavy Smokin' (Fania)
Wu Man, Immeasurable Light (Traditional Crossroads)

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