Chicago’s Devin Shaffer channels idiosyncrasies into soundscapes on In My Dreams I’m There | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Chicago’s Devin Shaffer channels idiosyncrasies into soundscapes on In My Dreams I’m There



Devin Shaffer spent her formative years searching for a sense of belonging as a performer—whether on a stage or in Chicago’s musical zeitgeist. In 2012 she found that elusive sense of communion seething from the PA at Cafe Mustache during a set by Haley Fohr of Circuit des Yeux. It encouraged Shaffer to think beyond the typical boundaries for women in music, and last month, nearly a decade later, she released her first album under her own name, a meditative montage of voice and found sound titled In My Dreams I’m There (American Dreams). From 2016 to 2018, Shaffer released whirring drone compositions under the name Yarrow, including a devastating 2016 slowcore split with the Sister Grotto project of heaven-metal songwriter Madeline Johnston (who currently performs as Midwife). Shaffer’s atmospheric new material is far more driven by vocals and reflective of her idiosyncrasies—she’s a chronic daydreamer, for instance, and compulsively walks long distances. In My Dreams is an ever-wandering sound study that feels like it’s in perpetual motion, untethered by earthly constraints. Shaffer transforms each song into a rousing panorama, whether she’s negotiating a wrong turn while cruising down back roads with a lover (“Drive Into Woods”) or wading in a transitory moment of desire (“Taste You With My Mouth Closed”). Using an arsenal of field recordings—clanging wind chimes, hissing waves, chirping birds—she melds mundanities into the wispy dreamscapes of her falsetto and humming guitar, a creeping collision not unlike the bleeding colors of a Rothko painting. Her first live performance of these ten new tracks will unfold on the Sleeping Village patio, with glitch-pop project Lipsticism opening. Onstage Shaffer uses her guitar, a pedal board, and turntables, creating a full sound by looping field recordings and manipulating vintage vinyl in real time. No matter how Shaffer chooses to approach re-creating In My Dreams for a live audience, she’s sure to conjure an atmosphere that is as sublime as it is fleeting.   v

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