Bailter Space | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Music » Critic's Choice

Bailter Space




Loudness is often the first refuge of a lazy band, but for New York transplants Bailter Space it's an integral part of the act. In the early 80s, when all three members were in a band called the Gordons, drummer and sampler operator Brent McLachlan and singing guitarists Alister Parker and John Halvorsen were legendary for touring the tiny pubs of their native New Zealand with a PA as big as Motorhead's. They played brutal, monochromatic postpunk rock. Parker started Bailter Space with Clean drummer Hamish Kilgour in 1985; Halvorsen joined in '87, and McLachlan replaced Kilgour in '89. The group refined its approach, using tympanum-eroding volume to generate lovely overtones that shimmered around its great indelible hooks like a cool neon haze. This approach climaxed on 1994's Vortura (Matador), an epic recording that failed to find an audience when it was released. Perhaps as a result Bailter Space turned it way down on 1995's poppy Wammo, but without those brilliant high frequencies the songs sounded a bit underdressed. The trio's latest album, Capsul (Turnbuckle), strikes a balance between textures and tunes, its melodies surfing over the sound waves rather than lurking beneath them. The effect is exhilarating--even through earplugs. Saturday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. BILL MEYER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Stefano Guiovannini.

Get our free weekly Early Warnings newsletter 💌

It’s Chicago’s essential months-ahead music calendar straight to your inbox.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →