GANG GANG DANCE, OCRILIM | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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GANG GANG DANCE, OCRILIM

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I never thought much about GANG GANG DANCE before last month, when this much-hyped NYC art-rock combo released the CD-DVD set Retina Riddim (Social Registry). A band with live visuals that tries to sell them on disc usually just comes off as self-indulgent (now everyone in flyover country can dig the Super-8 footage our groovy friends shot for our stage show!), but Retina Riddim actually clarifies and codifies the Gang Gang Dance aesthetic--for the first time I can appreciate the group's experimental-postpunk-tribal-improv ethos, which owes more than a little to the Exploding Plastic Inevitable. The half-hour DVD, its soundtrack, and the 24-minute CD were all pieced together from audio and video captured on the road or at rehearsals, live shows, and sound checks, as well as field recordings and abstract visual vignettes created specifically for the release. Thematic rhymes and recurring motifs blur the lines between the two media, disrupting the usual music-video hierarchy where image follows sound--the throbbing, organic music shifts and evolves the same way a visual narrative might develop, and the film's permutations have the rhythm and flow of music. --J. Niimi

Prog-metal maniacs Orthrelm once squished 99 frantic songs into 13 minutes. As OCRILIM, Orthrelm guitarist Mick Barr makes one-man music that's similarly dense and impossible, piling up five guitar parts on every song--the result is more or less one mad, anxiously long virtuoso solo that wiggles and snakes with no lead-off or letdown, like the millisecond flash of a hairline lightning bolt dilated to three minutes. This is his first tour as Ocrilim, and I have no idea how he's going to render this stuff live: Delay pedals? DAT tape? Accomplices? Occasionally Barr defers to familiar lead and backup roles with his overdubs, but more often he unleashes a squealing, buzzing swarm of electric technology on the verge of a mega meltdown, sometimes sounding like a cartoon bee scrambling for the queen and sometimes like a careening ambulance about to jump the curb and clip you. I'm not gonna lie--this shit's so intense I can't listen to it for more than ten minutes without taking a break. --Liz Armstrong

Gang Gang Dance headlines and Ocrilim plays second; Teith, a side project of Pelican guitarist Trevor de Brauw, opens. a 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10.

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