Silkworm | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Seattle's Silkworm released two amazing albums last year: In the West (C/Z), which languished in the can for nearly a year before its release last January, and last fall's even better Libertine (El Recordo). Their early-90s noise-'n'-melody excursions may have sounded virtually indistinguishable from those of America's ever-growing pack of seven-inch producers, but incessant touring brought about a transformation. The new records throb with an unsettling drama, exploiting indie-rock rudiments but somehow twisting them into something unfamiliar. Picking out influences is a difficult task: while specks of Neil Young's forlorn melodicism and Slint's combination of exaggerated dynamics and sleepy melancholy may litter the music, there are no signs of outright devotion. Sonically, the band employs lots of wide-open spaces; instruments frequently drop out for extended periods, and songs build themselves up from rubble into impenetrable walls. At first they seem to subscribe to bury-your-hook boredom, but Silkworm's aching tunefulness is so wedded to pure emotion that the only way to see the paths the melodies take is to get into the singer's troubled head. Not long after the release of their 1994 albums, guitarist/vocalist Joel Phelps left the band, and they've stuck with the resulting three-man lineup. Word is they remain a powerful live band. Friday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 276-3600.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/John Kezdy.

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