Brooklyn duo 75 Dollar Bill shake up their hypnotic sound with a churning second album | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Brooklyn duo 75 Dollar Bill shake up their hypnotic sound with a churning second album


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Last year scrappy, minimalist New York duo 75 Dollar Bill dropped their second proper album, Wood/Metal/Plastic/Pattern/Rhythm/Rock (Thin Wrist), whose awkward title serves as a list of the basic ingredients that guitarist Che Chen and percussionist Rick Brown draw on. (“Second” doesn’t count their three cassette-only titles.) Though still rooted in the visceral, cyclical grooves of North African guitar music—Chen has studied under Mauritanian guitarist Jeiche Ould Chighaly, a key member of Noura Mint Seymali’s band—75 Dollar Bill have been loosening their rustic foundations through a mix of accretion, displacement, and electronic manipulation. The ecstatic “Beni Said,” for example, thickens the plot with soulful charts spelled out by contrabassist Andrew Lafkas and baritone saxophonist Cheryl Kingman, while Karen Waltuch uses her electronically flanged viola to slither and slide through high-density grooves. Brown typically relies on a cajonlike plywood box he found in the street and a variety of shakers and homemade mallets, but on “Cummins Falls” his post-Bo Diddley groove is chopped up by floor-tom patterns played by Carey Balch, and the 15-minute epic “I’m Not Trying to Wake Up” conveys a dublike play with density and smudged textures. Earlier this year I was able to hear 75 Dollar Bill perform at the tiny Brooklyn bar Troost, and their spell-casting sounds pulled me in like never before: somehow they both refuse to change and transform their sound from minute to minute, and while the recordings are magnetic, nothing compares to what they do live. Mind Over Mirrors and stunning singer Sue Garner—who’s married to Brown and has long collaborated with him—open.   v

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