Immigrant Suns | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Immigrant Suns


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Now that our musical menu includes (in fact, teems with) ethnic delights from every conceivable corner of the globe, we can't really be surprised when they start spilling onto one another to create some truly unexpected combination platters. (Think Reese's peanut-butter cups here.) In this climate it makes perfect sense that about three years ago a Yugoslavian immigrant named Djeto Juncaj--who plays guitar, accordion, and the qyteli (a two-stringed lute somewhat related to the Turkish saz)--should hook up with an art-rock ensemble in his adopted hometown of Detroit for the purpose of exploring his Albanian roots in an Americanized pop setting. As you'd expect, the term "pop" is used advisedly: Immigrant Suns may not sound so authentic to Juncaj's ancestors, but it certainly won't rocket to the top of the charts here. Armed with more than a dozen folk instruments--as well as such staples as bass and drums, violin and guitar, bassoon and mandolin--the Immigrant Suns match the often irregular meters of their musical roots with plenty of off-kilter humor. In fact, their 1994 debut, Montenegro (Pho-net-ic Records), has the same quirky wit and ironic detail that distinguished the 1981 film named for the same remote Balkan mountain kingdom. Echoes of other Balkan music find their way into the Suns' repertoire, notably Macedonian. Nonetheless, you're on your own when it comes to deciding what such tunes as "Wung Hung You" and "Fistful of Yen"--which incorporate quite accurate approximations of Chinese music--have to do with all this. In any case, the Immigrant Suns have come up with a quite effective synthesis of old- and new-world sounds. And when they lock into one of their fiercely evocative odd-meter grooves, one has as much trouble sitting still as figuring out how the hell to dance to it. In a sort of one-week-late April Fools' tribute to the United Nations, Immigrant Suns will share the stage with a band playing one of the few styles of music not to infiltrate their odd little solar system, Orquestra Atipica. Sunday, 8 PM, Bop Shop, 1807 W. Division; 235-3232. NEIL TESSER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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