Cleared, White Car, Ken Camden | Hideout | Experimental | Chicago Reader

Cleared, White Car, Ken Camden Recommended Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Thu., Feb. 24, 9 p.m. 2011

Percussionist Steven Hess (a Chicago fixture who's played with the likes of Haptic, Locrian, and Pan American) and guitarist Michael Vallera (a relative newcomer who acquitted himself well on the 2010 Complacency Records compilation Offstrings: Inventions for Guitar) find common cause in Cleared, a brooding ambient project that emphasizes distortion, delay, and sonic decay. On their terrific self-titled debut for Immune Recordings the duo produce most of the sounds using conventional drums, electric guitar, and bass, but they give their minimalist output a maximalist treatment via live processing, looping, delay, speed manipulation, and resampling. With the exception of its closing track, "False Mornings"—whose quavering, resonant guitar drone and brittle but fierce drum pattern make it sound like a grinding This Heat song played through a transistor radio—the album celebrates how signals break down, with passages bounced repeatedly among different analog media until they become unrecognizable. The cavernous, percussive blows peppering the milky hiss of "When the Ground Is Close" could have been produced by a drum or a guitar, and in the end it doesn't matter which. —Peter Margasak

Price: $8

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