Black Heart Procession | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Black Heart Procession


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On 2, the second album by San Diego's Black Heart Procession, Pall A. Jenkins and Tobias Nathaniel further distance themselves from the dull drone rock of their better-known band, Three Mile Pilot. The new record, their first for Touch and Go, develops a casual but highly personal take on Americana: its superficially familiar acoustic guitars, piano, organ, spare percussion (courtesy of former Clikitat Ikatowi drummer Mario Rubalcaba), and plaintive, almost painfully earnest singing combine in beautifully gothic dirges that place them in a league with Will Oldham and Tom Waits. Jenkins's melancholy melodies drip like molasses while guitar or piano arpeggios undulate gently beneath; skeletal but pretty pieces like "Outside the Glass" and "Gently Off the Edge" are hallucinogenic lullabies, while the stomping "Your Church Is Red" sounds like a strung-out cabaret gem. I'm not sure how the album's stunning intimacy will translate live, but with some patience (and maybe some caffeine) it ought to be worth the gamble. Also on the bill are the like-minded Orso and Souled American. The latter, back from its first east-coast jaunt in years, now has its entire recorded oeuvre in print, thanks to reissues of its beautifully stark Notes Campfire (1997) on the new Catamount imprint and its four Rough Trade LPs on the San Francisco label Tumult. Friday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. Free in-store performance Friday, 5 PM, Reckless Records, 1532 N. Milwaukee; 773-235-3727. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Thomas Campbell.

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