As the line between ambient music and sound art continues to blur, combos like Labradford have stepped up to clarify things. Such rippling music is typically experienced as a wash of sound, but Labradford has managed to instill in these sullen soundscapes a forlorn, hesitant melodicism. While a piece like "Phantom Channel Crossing," from the group's just-released, self-titled third album, opts for a nonlinear swirl of detailed noises, including the languorous sound of chains being dragged across a metal canister, most of the other pieces could loosely be called songs. While Mark Nelson's breathy vocals on a tune like "Midrange" veer dangerously toward mid-80s British goth, the trio's funereal soundscapes are brightened by evocative, dynamic layers of sonic color. Labradford's music is extremely still; when something happens the shift occurs at a crawl. That pace makes seeing the band perform live something of a chore, but if you've got the patience it can be rewarding. Friday, 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Labradford photo.