Quarter Mile Thunder, Record Low, Wild Jesus & the Devil’s Lettuce | Empty Bottle | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Quarter Mile Thunder, Record Low, Wild Jesus & the Devil’s Lettuce Agenda Soundboard Recommended Image

When: Fri., Dec. 19, 9 p.m. 2014

Funded by the Illinois Arts Council, the third release by Quarter Mile Thunder—the sparse, ambient project started by guitarist Ben Clarke, formerly of local metal megaoutfit Bloodiest—features four dissonant tracks that combine for a run time of just over 30 minutes. By the time the album reaches its conclusion, though, the brief intermissions between the hazy songs feel absolutely insignificant. Self-titled and self-released, the record exudes a wanderer-like vibe that is incredibly personal, and Clarke’s stark sound—complemented by his dusty, almost breathless voice—eases forth till the end of time as swells of white noise and omnipresent organ swallow minutes whole. His inclusion of dead space on the album, and especially on a track like “Fool”—which, between the guitar chords and flourishes of piano, is loaded with nothingness—doesn’t offer any opportunity to stretch and have a look around. Rather, it builds an uneasy kind of tension—listening can occasionally feel like feeling your way through a pitch-black room with stretched-out arms. The backing band, already an ever-morphing mix of well-known locals, is helped by an extra load of contributions on this album: Bruce Lamont of Yakuza and Bloodiest plays saxophone, Jim Becker of Califone contributes violin, and improv-jazz cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm is involved, in addition to pianist Ben Boye. For tonight’s album release Clarke will be joined by regular collaborators Matt DeWine (studio manager and house engineer at Pieholden Suite Sound) and Johnny Caluya (Verma), among others. —Kevin Warwick

Price: $10, $5 in advance

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