Grails, James Blackshaw | Empty Bottle | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Grails, James Blackshaw Recommended Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard

When: Sat., April 30, 7 p.m. 2011

Portland-based instrumental quartet Grails don't tour very often as a unit, being in the habit of sharing members with numerous other groups (including Om, Holy Sons, and Harvestman, a side project of Neurosis guitarist Steve Von Till), but their live shows are nonetheless reliably powerful experiences. Originally cast in a sort of art-doom mold, on recent releases (including the fourth disc in their Black Tar Prophecies vinyl series) they've moved more eclectically through the quasi-genre of "soundtrack seeking film." Many of the haunting, suspended moments on their new Deep Politics (Temporary Residence) seem designed to hang on visuals that exist only in the listener's mind, in a way that reminds me a bit of recent Earth (though more intensely orchestrated) or what the score to Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man might have sounded like if it had been scored by Tony Iommi instead of Neil Young on solo guitar. Grails layer sounds with painterly care, but the final product stops just short of being "lush." Their landscape is definitely a desert, but the sun's gone down—it's cool, dark, and thick with nocturnal hunters and night-blooming flowers. —Monica Kendrick

Price: $10

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