Stars of the Lid | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Stars of the Lid


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When they started out in the mid-90s, Stars of the Lid used the most basic equipment--guitars, effects pedals, and a four-track cassette recorder--in their Austin living rooms to create gorgeously textured drones. Since then Brian McBride and Adam Wiltzie have accumulated more gear, but they've also moved to separate cities; they recorded last year's epic double CD/triple LP, The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid (Kranky), by mailing DATs back and forth between Chicago and Brussels. They've added piano and samples of radio broadcasts, strings, and horns to the mix, and molded the sounds into more overtly melodic structures. But the enhanced clarity of the new work has a downside; while Tired is always pleasant, it lacks the dense, sustained beauty the duo obtained by bouncing dozens of sounds down to four tracks on earlier albums such as The Ballasted Orchestra and Gravitational Pull vs. the Desire for an Aquatic Life. Stars of the Lid apparently recognize that two guys stepping on a bunch of pedals isn't the sort of spectacle that engages a concert audience, so they've invited film mixer Luke Savisky to project loops of found 16-millimeter footage onto them as they play. I've never experienced anything more psychedelic than the vertiginous swirl of sound and sight at the Stars' show at the Empty Bottle in 1998. Radar Brothers (see Spot Check) and Pine Marten open. Tuesday, November 5, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

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