On their latest album, Juxtaposition (Thrill Jockey), the Viennese trio Radian continue to transform raw static, hums, and hisses into clinical funk that's strikingly dynamic and accessible. Before recording in Chicago with John McEntire, the group laid down bits of guitar, vibes, bass, and drums, then fed the sounds through various computer patches to render them all but unrecognizable. Synthesizer maestro Stefan Nemeth then layered the sounds over the liquid, volume-pedal-controlled bass swells from John Norman and Martin Brandlmayr's distinctive, elliptical drumming. Like reductionist improvisers who whittle gestures and sounds down to basic movements and utterances, the Austrians work with a minimal palette, but their pieces have the shape of songs, though any of the tracks on Juxtaposition would be impossible to chart in a conventional way. Brandlmayr and Norman's taut grooves regularly leave out notes and beats, creating a delicious tension, while Nemeth's painterly synth splashes exploit holes in the rhythm to create oddly melodic figures. Some pieces, like "Ontario" and "Tester," have an appealingly amorphous texture, while others, like "Transistor" and "Nord," with their sharp dynamics, rhythmic snap, and undulating tones, sound symphonic. A show Radian played at the Empty Bottle while making the new record was one of the best I saw last year; their increased volume made the music sound even more precise and dramatic. Dabrye headlines; John McEntire spins. Tue 3/22, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $10.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Saverio Truglia.