Andrea Parkins | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Sitting behind a sampler and an electric keyboard with an accordion strapped around her shoulders, Andrea Parkins sometimes looks like a sideshow attraction, and in fact she is best known for her supporting roles, with Ellery Eskelin's superb trio and Joe Morris's Many Rings group. But on her own she crafts whole narratives of dense, layered sound, each texture evoking yet another mood. As the title of her new album, Slippage (Knitting Factory Works), suggests, her music shifts, often jarringly, from one episode to another, like a slide projector noisily dropping in a new image. Half the album was recorded with saxophonist Briggan Krauss and drummer Kenny Wollesen, her regular working band. Their performances are nominally conventional--Wollesen hovers over fixed rhythms and Krauss improvises at odd angles while Parker triangulates the implied chordal patterns--but the shape of a given piece can morph at any moment. At one point "Local Cosmography" whirls a droning, hypnotic accordion riff and folky Ayler-esque sax patterns into a hallucinogenic carousel ride; the galloping groove of of "Early TV" evaporates into an accordion-electronics haze. Parkins's solo pieces--which is what she'll perform here this weekend--range from nightmarish electronic assaults like "Remarkable Spectacle of a Frozen Cataract" to kinetic piano pieces like "Order of Signs." Parkins plays on the second night of the Women Hold Up Half the Sound festival; see listings for details. Saturday, 8:30 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo; 312-362-9707.


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