The hills are alive with the noise of Ortmann | Gossip Wolf | Chicago Reader

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The hills are alive with the noise of Ortmann

Plus: Varsity tease their new garage-pop tape, and friends say farewell to beloved sound engineer John Emerson.

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Chicago noise artist Andy Ortmann (founder of Nihilist Records and Panicsville) is busy this season. On Thu 3/19 he joins Hanna Elliott of noise-rock duo Hogg at the Owl to host the DJ night Terrorvision, dedicated to minimal wave, goth, industrial, postpunk, and electronic music. Ortmann also has some new music out: the solo cassette Inconsequential via New Orleans label Thirdsex and a collaboration with Alex Barnett called Seasonal Attrition via Cleveland label Centre. On Sun 3/22 he plays the Empty Bottle with Peter Speer, Jason Soliday, and the Green Pasture Happiness; on Thu 3/26 he opens for Muyassar Kurdi (aka the Humminbird) at the Hideout.

Chicago garage-pop five-piece Varsity have earned Gossip Wolf's top grade for the incorrigibly tuneful songcraft on their self-titled debut cassette—and they've teased just one song! "Hairpool" sounds like a hooky mix of Velocity Girl and synthy 80s power poppers Game Theory. Indianapolis label Jurassic Pop will release the tape on Tue 3/24; Varsity play Cole's on Sat 3/21.

Gossip Wolf is sad to report that sound engineer John Emerson died at age 65 on Sat 3/14, according to a Facebook post by his brother. Beginning in the early 90s, Emerson brought his expertise and enthusiasm for live sound to the likes of Elgin's Third Floor and the Fireside Bowl, becoming a friend to bands such as Slapstick, Trenchmouth, the Smoking Popes, the Scissor Girls, and Cheer-­Accident. "He did sound at dozens of places," says Brian Peterson of MP Productions. "His reach spread pretty far and wide." Dan Maloney of Death Ships, whose first bands worked with Emerson in Arlington Heights, remembers him fondly: "He was kind of a punk-rock grandfather, as it was kind of a rite of passage with any suburban band to have a John Emerson demo," he says. "He would always find a place for runaways or troubled punk-rock kids that needed a place to crash."

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