Chris Schlarb, Brian Case, Rob Jacobs | Comfort Station | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Chris Schlarb, Brian Case, Rob Jacobs Recommended All Ages Soundboard Image

When: Fri., Aug. 1, 8 p.m. 2014

Los Angeles guitarist Chris Schlarb explores pop and jazz through the lens of improvisation, creating a variety of odd polyglot blends that emphasize one genre or another. His duo I Heart Lung juggles prog rock, free jazz, and post-Fahey Americana, and his more recent project Psychic Temple sounds like a take on Steely Dan that leaves in all the rough edges rather than sanding them away. For his fantastic new solo album, Making the Saint (Asthmatic Kitty), he backed away from the elaborate studio productions he’d used on earlier releases, instead retreating to a remote cabin in Big Bear, California, to record a series of powerfully intimate guitar meditations. The moody, achingly melodic lines of the 19-minute title track unfurl over an insistently throbbing buzz that gives the piece a postapocalyptic vibe; it sounds like a cross between Loren Mazzacane’s knotted, introspective country blues and Neil Young’s soundtrack for Dead Man. On “Great Receiver” acoustic arpeggios provide a foundation for terse, improvised electric excursions and sparse, modest vocals, while on “The Fear of Death Is the Birth of God” liquid E-bowed tones cascade luxuriantly over a simple, looped descending pattern on electric guitar. A delicate, direct reading of the pop standard “My Foolish Heart” ends the album beautifully and succinctly. Schlarb headlines an evening of solo guitar music that also features Brian Case of Disappears and Rob Jacobs of Wei Zhongle. —Peter Margasak

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