The low-tech recording revolution began in the early 80s, when Daniel Johnston first started releasing homemade tapes of songs that chronicled his struggles with dead-end jobs and mental illness. Now bands all around the world bypass the conventional strategies of recording in studios and releasing their music through record companies. Since 1986 Guided by Voices has recorded seven albums in various living room and garage studios around its hometown of Dayton, Ohio, but it's never distributed its albums beyond the city limits; whether it was indifferent to mainstream success or just didn't know how to go about out-of-town distribution is unclear. What is certain is that the band, isolated in a classic-rock wasteland, has developed into one of North America's best recording ensembles. Their recent CD, which pairs the Propeller and Vampire on Titus LPs, is a delirious hour-long funhouse-mirror refraction of rock and roll that skips gleefully from anthemic two-chord pop to stunted art-rock epics to abruptly ending folk-song fragments to sonic collages. A lot of low-tech music gives the impression that its practitioners are housebound and paranoid, but not Guided by Voices; Pollard used to play in a Cheap Trick cover band, and it shows. He has an intuitive grasp of song structure that makes even his most fractured compositions accessible, and the band's joy in playing them is clearly audible. Guided by Voices rarely play live; their well-received appearance at last year's New Music Seminar in New York was their first in five years. In performance they stick to their straightest, most infectious songs; their Chicago debut should not be missed. Green and Matt Miller open. Saturday, 10 PM, Thurston's, 1248 W. George; 472-6900.