Def Harmonic | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The focal point of Def Harmonic's recent Travel Suggestions (Wobblyhead) is meant to be the jazz-slinky delivery of rappers Jason Todd and Lunaversol (think Digable Planets), but by far the most interesting thing about the record is Todd's crisp, austere production. By mixing tough programmed breakbeats with live bass lines and a steady flow of varied coloristic samples, Def Harmonic manages to retain a traditional hip-hop feel while borrowing flourishes from chill-out-room denizens like Kruder & Dorfmeister. On "Surround," for instance, a stuttering head-bobber of a beat gets decked out with a parade of shifting details--a two-chord piano pattern, ghostly cymbal patter, an electric piano lick, a Vocodorized chorus, creepy watery staccato tones. If only the rapping seemed like more than another detail. Def Harmonic performs as part of a showcase for Milwaukee's electronica-friendly Wobblyhead label; also performing are Signaldrift, DJ Old Man Malcolm, and DJ One-F. Thursday, January 10, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

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