ELEVENTH DREAM DAY
The bumpy ride Eleventh Dream Day took from independent labels to Atlantic and back again (to Chicago outlets Atavistic and now Thrill Jockey) makes for compelling extramusical narrative. But the parallel musical story is just as interesting, and the current chapter--the exciting, if plainly titled, Eighth--shows that even after a decade the tale is far from told. Notable plot developments include the increased presence of synthesized sounds, like those that bounce behind the bubbly, bass-intensive beat of the instrumental "Writes a Letter Home" and murmur beneath Rick Rizzo's slow, Dead Man-ish guitar on "For a King." No doubt some of this is the result of bassist Doug McCombs and producer John McEntire's experiments with electronics in Tortoise (sometime Tortoise collaborator Casey Rice is a guest on Eighth, too). That's not to say this sounds like a Tortoise record, but the new material does nudge Eleventh Dream Day in an interesting direction, replacing some of the band's traditional organic rock rhythm-section undergirding with broader textural support. The songs themselves are still soundly structured and lyrically stirring (in a nice touch, the words are printed on the CD itself so the listener is forced to listen, rather than follow along); husband and wife Rizzo and Janet Beveridge Bean still sing with their patented vulnerable sincerity and knowing bite, particularly effective on the bittersweet "Insomnia" ("Now our lives hang in balance / You just can't stem the tide / You've got to live with yourself / Or learn to love the ride"). More guitar-fueled numbers, like the Tom Verlaine-esque workout "Motion Sickness," are full of unexpurgated R 'n' R spunk. Ferocious guest guitarist Tara Key of Antietam just played Europe and New York with Eleventh Dream Day; for this synthesizer-free gig she'll cross axes with Rizzo one more time to help keep things honest. Saturday, 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160. JOHN CORBETT
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Brad Miller.