Kranky partners with Ambient Church to celebrate its 25th birthday in the city of its birth | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Kranky partners with Ambient Church to celebrate its 25th birthday in the city of its birth


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Update 12.06.18: Windy & Carl will no longer be performing at this event due to a family emergency. Matt Jencik has been added to play an opening set.

The drifting, beatless songs and subtly abraded electronic textures of Labradford’s 1993 LP Prazision were a shot across the bow of corporate grunge, indie rock, and pretty much everything else going on in music that year. The album, which was the first release from Kranky, also predicted a future in which musicians would be free to draw upon a much wider array of sounds and stylistic templates. Though the Chicago-born label would come to be strongly associated with ambient and atmospheric music, it never locked into a particular sound. And over the past quarter of a century, it’s sustained relationships with some of the earliest recording artists on its roster while constantly adding new ones. Though Kranky relocated its headquarters to the west coast five years ago, Chicago has been selected by Ambient Church—an organization that sponsors music and light shows in venues more exalted than the average bar—along with New York, Portland, and Los Angeles to take part in the label’s 25th-anniversary celebration. All of the performers at this weekend’s shows at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel are midwesterners with strong Kranky connections. Ann Arbor-based Justin Walter has played trumpet with the Afrobeat combo Nomo and electronics with Colin Stetson. On Unseen Forces, his most recent LP for Kranky, he layers brass, keyboards, and a wind-operated synthesizer known as an Electronic Valve Instrument into pensive, sometimes uneasy soundscapes. Pan American is the name under which ex-Labradford singer and multi-instrumentalist Mark Nelson has played electro-dub and atmospheric, brass-tinged instrumentals since 1997. Though he lives in Chicago, he can go years without performing here, and since he’s just completed a solo tour of Europe playing all new, guitar-oriented material, even longtime fans can expect to hear something they’ve never heard before. Ex-Emeralds keyboardist Steve Hauschildt’s latest album, Dissolvi (Ghostly International), adds streamlined beats and guest vocals to the gently bubbling synthetic textures of his solo records for Kranky. Windy & Carl have been around nearly as long as Kranky and have amassed a massive discography of melancholy songs and liquid instrumentals that includes five albums for the label.  v

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