Fay, Touched by Ghoul, Brian Case & Justin Walter, Melina Ausikaitis & Matt Jencik | Empty Bottle | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Fay, Touched by Ghoul, Brian Case & Justin Walter, Melina Ausikaitis & Matt Jencik Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Wed., Sept. 17, 9 p.m. 2014

Fay Davis-Jeffers, best known to Chicagoans as the singer and keyboardist for defunct art-rock trio Pit er Pat, moved to Los Angeles five years ago and promptly reinvented herself musically. She’s made two fascinating solo records under the name Fay, departing from Pit er Pat’s loose, convoluted song structures to make music that’s more elusive, clipped, and twitchy. On the most recent, last year’s Deathwatch (Time No Place), she treats her conversational vocals as a raw material—she chops up simple phrases (“Special hats / Sex hats”) into their individual phonemes, plays them backward, and layers them into melodic swooshes and radiant bursts of harmony. She produced most of the sounds on both records—including the throbbing beats and multiple subterranean bass lines—using the limited assortment of presets on her sampling synthesizer, but that doesn’t turn out to be much of a hurdle. Just as Davis-Jeffers manipulates her voice in a thousand ways, she processes drum tones into buzzy pulses and guitar parts into bass patterns. Her austere tracks have a machinelike veneer, but counterintuitively they also feel loose and homemade—she makes her experimental dance music without the benefit of a sequencer or a quantized digital grid, assembling samples with just her eyes and ears to guide her. The clever ways she’s devised to get around a lack of gear end up making her songs more absorbing and distinctive than they would be if she’d bought the same toys as everyone else. This is Davis-Jeffers’s first solo show in Chicago. —Peter Margasak

Price: $8

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