Hella | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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It seems like a lot of the new brutal-prog bands switch things up all the time just to fuck with you--they'll let you settle into the warm, cozy jamming, then peel out in some unpredictable direction, leaving you shivering and wondering where you are. But with Hella, who're as chops-heavy and rhythmically nomadic as any of them, the gear changing seems less like a power trip and more like obsessive compulsion; they noodle because they have to, but you're encouraged to follow along. Spencer Seim cranks a bedlam of sixteenth notes out of his no-brand guitar while drummer Zach Hill (who's played on records by Les Claypool and Team Sleep, as well as others he won't publicly admit to) chases him in bursts of syncopation; the gaps in the thorny time signatures let enough melody shine through that you don't get lost. Direct comparisons don't do these guys justice, though it's pretty hard to hear them without thinking of Don Caballero (minus the ego) or Lightning Bolt (minus the distortion). Appreciating their last full-length, Hold Your Horse Is (5 Rue Christine), takes a certain amount of commitment--at first it sounds like they're just loitering. But after repeated plays, you start to hear the long ass-dragging movements as elaborate buildups that culminate (or disintegrate) in strange little knots of scribbles and muttering. Saturday, September 13, 8 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton; 773-975-0505.

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