Eternals, Bedfellows | Schubas | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Eternals, Bedfellows Recommended Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Fri., Feb. 11, 10 p.m. 2011

The loss of a key member is a blow for any band, even more so when that member is a good drummer. This would seem to be especially true for a band like the Eternals, who build almost everything in their music around intensely dense, mind-expandingly varied, and relentlessly propulsive grooves. When the trio's third drummer, Tim Mulvenna, left last year, I would've expected vocalist Damon Locks and bassist Wayne Montana—the group's core from day one—to put the Eternals on hold till they found a worthy replacement, but instead they took his departure as a challenge. Though Mulvenna appears on four tracks of the new Approaching the Energy Field (Addenda), for the bulk of the album Locks and Montana use programmed beats, augmenting them with an inventive array of nonpercussive tools—keyboards, samples, vocals, Montana's serpentine reggae-flavored bass lines—that they deploy in layered lattices or as minimalist punctuation. It's the most counterintuitive record in the band's history, apparently assembled through a series of willfully weird choices. The drummerless tracks seem to dispense with logic altogether—they're mostly structured around Locks's vocals, which range from nasal chanting to punkish hectoring to falsetto keening, and they bubble over with an unpredictable diversity of sounds that dwarfs Locks's range. Rob Mazurek drapes the cyclical, hypnotic opening section of "The Floods" in gossamer cornet lines, and the grimy "Shadow Radio" recalls Locks and Montana's old postpunk band Trenchmouth with its stuttering jackhammer stomp and Locks's slow-motion invocation of Bad Brains front man H.R. The Eternals have never sounded like anybody else, and if it's possible for a band to get more unique, they've done it. As he has for the past several months, Areif Sless-Kitain of Reds & Blue (also Montana's bandmate in I Kong Kult) will drum on older tunes as well as Energy Field songs that feature Mulvenna; he'll also sit out from time to time while Locks and Montana do their thing. Opening are the Bedfellows, whose lineup includes singer Michael Guarrine, drummer Damien Thompson, and guitarist Ethan D'Ercole—all from old Eternals comrades the Watchers. —Peter Margasak

Price: $10

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