In 1979, as the principal songwriter and instrumentalist for the Welsh minimalist pop trio Young Marble Giants, Stuart Moxham was the architect of a sound that still influences pop. Like punk rock, the Giants' music was a stripped-down alternative to the bloated flab that dominated the 70s: a couple of instruments playing simple parts over a metronomic beat, a singer (Alison Statton) whose delivery was as artless as it was lovely, and a quietly articulated alienation. Performers as disparate as Speed the Plough and Hole have covered the Giants' songs--last year Kurt Cobain recorded a solo version of "Credit in the Straight World" for the upcoming Young Marble Giants tribute album on Landspeed--and Moxham's less-is-more production aesthetic has had a lasting influence on the indie-pop landscape. But after the Giants broke up in 1980 Moxham's career floundered; he didn't fit into the trend-driven British music scene, and by the early 1990s he was reduced to paying to play in London folk clubs. Then the Chicago-based Feel Good All Over label stepped in, releasing his first album in ten years (1993's Signal Path) and arranging for him to produce albums by Young Marble Giants devotees Lois Maffeo, Barbara Manning, and Beat Happening. In a remarkable reversal of fortune, Moxham now has albums out or pending on three labels in three countries, and he's in Chicago recording a fourth. His current music is warmer and more inclusive than it used to be--on his new CD, Random Rules (Peak), elements of country, soul, and reggae soften his once-sharp edges--but he remains a master of economical pop songcraft. For this show Moxham says he'll play skiffle style, backed by members of the King Size Studios engineering staff on stand-up bass and a small drum kit. Syd Straw headlines. Sunday, 9 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Brad Miller.