When: Thu., Jan. 19, 9 p.m. 2017
Ben Baker Billington has become a pillar of Chicago’s bustling underground music community, organizing concerts and playing in countless groups. He moves easily between noise, free jazz, and psychedelia in the combos he works in, so it should be no surprise that his long-running, primarily electronic solo project Quicksails makes a virtue of variety, not only from album to album, but within a single release. Late last year Quicksails dropped its eighth and best album, Mortal on Hausu Mountain—the vinyl version was just released last week—featuring pieces written during what Billington describes as “a year of intense personal upheavals.” He has a knack for channeling experiences into something meditative, and the percolating grooves and soothing melodic shapes provide warmth and beauty to what results. While most of Mortal is electronic—with dancing rhythms, wriggling tones that sparkle and glow, and pointillistic flickers of sound—a couple of pieces include saxophone from Carlos Chavarria, and another contains tartly abstract trumpet improvisation from Jake Acosta. On “The Compound Blues” Billington draws upon his jazz chops, using brushes on his snare to create a swinging pattern for Chavarria’s probing tenor, while on “Ambassador” buzzing and blooping tones bubble over skipping tabla beats and handclaps. Elsewhere he toggles between a kind of instrumental electronic groove music—subdued, subtle, and smoky—and crawling atmospheric vignettes, all more cogent and appealing than anything he’s pulled off previously.
Price: $5-$10 suggested donation