When: Fri., Jan. 27, 9 p.m. 2017
Over the last couple of years Chicago’s Natalie Chami has cultivated an impressive facility at building fluid melodic shapes and structures from keyboards, electronics, and voice, a practice that’s not only been a key reason the trio Good Willsmith has evolved from jammy to focused, but also explains why her solo project TALsounds has become one of the most reliable and satisfying live acts in the city. In October she dropped her strongest recording yet with Lifter + Lighter (released by Hausu Mountain, the label operated by Good Willsmith bandmates Doug Kaplan and Maxwell Allison), and it shows what makes her so compelling. Warm, aqueous synthesizer tones and oscillating electronic lines probe and harmonize in patient, shifting patterns as her often wordless vocals—clearly influenced by the liquid lyric quality of Bjork—ripple through those aforementioned elusive structures in looped and reverberant flurries that are as fleeting as the keyboard patterns she endlessly conjures. Most of the tape is soothing and unrepentantly pretty, but she doesn’t shy away from abstraction and dissonance, whether it’s the gently needling gurgles of “I’m Just Around,” which summons the creepy sprawl of early Throbbing Gristle, or the chopped-up pulsating electro-psychedelia of “I Am Why.” In performance the diminutive Chami nonchalantly pulls off these vignettes, toggling like a mad scientist between keyboards, a sprawl of pedals and effects, and a microphone—and still producing music of striking precision and airiness. TALsounds kicks off the opening night of Chicago Pysch Fest.