Brett Naucke goes deep into the void to deliver spacey electronic soundscapes | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Brett Naucke goes deep into the void to deliver spacey electronic soundscapes


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One of the first times I saw Brett Naucke onstage was in in 2007, when he and his noisy power trio, Druids of Huge, played a Cleveland punk bar. During the first minutes of the set someone dumped an entire pint of beer on Naucke’s synthesizer, rendering it unusable. In response, Naucke cranked the dials on his amp to kick up feedback, then hoisted said amp above his head and menacingly waved it toward the crowd. That gig was entertaining and punk as hell, but Naucke has come a long way since then, refining his electronics-addled path. He began releasing solo recordings in 2010, starting with cassettes on Brooklyn label Arbor and his own Catholic Tapes imprint. He laid down his template with his first 12-inch vinyl release, 2013’s The Visitor (on the Nihilist label run by Panicsville's Andy Ortmann): spacey drones, machine-malfunction blips and tones, field-recording samples, and an ominous vibe of technological doom that owes as much to the darkness of Throbbing Gristle and Coil as it does to the heady sounds of Tangerine Dream and Cluster. In 2014 he released his debut full-length, Seed, on which he goes deeper into the void to create soundscapes too involved and abstract to be called ambient; as a shortwave radio blinks in and out and percussive patches give way to rippling electronics, the listener is caught in a sonic black hole of Naucke’s making. A flurry of excellent cassette and single releases followed, peaking with the 2018 full-length The Mansion (Spectrum Spools), which contains Naucke’s most detailed compositions to date. Featuring contributions from fellow Chicago experimentalists Whitney Johnson (Matchess) and Natalie Chami (TALsounds), the album sometimes takes on glitchy 20th-century classical and sometimes unfolds with a melodious, dreamlike flow. Naucke celebrates the release of a new EP at this gig, a 45 RPM 12-inch called Electronic Hypnosis Program that’s coming out on the Make Noise label (mostly known for the synthesizer-manufacturing side of its business). Lead single “Pulse Reader” features trance-inducing beats among an organized chaos of synth blurps, treated vocals, and bits of 80s-ish keyboard melodies, but the song that best emulates a hypnotized state is “Stolen Dreamtime,” which recalls the more machinelike, blissed-out side of Krautrock groups such as Kraftwerk, Harmonia, and Roedelius. Naucke’s live performances often mix this nuanced, spacey aesthetic with synapse-frying electronic squalls, so be prepared for a possibly turbulent but definitely rewarding blast off into the cosmos.   v

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