Sui generis duo Beautifulish constructs alien sound worlds | Music Review | Chicago Reader

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Sui generis duo Beautifulish constructs alien sound worlds


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Percussionist Samuel Scranton and bassoonist Katherine Young (who was, in the distant past, a Reader editorial staffer) combine improvised and composed material in the sui generis duo Beautifulish. Their name may sound tentative, and their preference for small-run cassettes may seem humble, but there’s nothing timid about their radical sounds. Beautifulish’s music arose from weekly sessions of improvisation, which gradually unearthed a shared vocabulary of electronically magnified textures and dogged actions that sound more like field recordings from an imagined world than any known genre of music. On “#FAD6A5,” layers of echoing strikes and blips evoke a vigorous congressional debate between dueling parties of mechanical birds. (Half the tape’s six tracks are tagged with hexadecimal color codes, and the other three have conventional titles.) The hollow thumps and guttural rumbles of “Inchworm” sound less like the titular garden menace and more like the digestive processes of a recently fed tiger. And “#C5B358” gives you a good idea how the impact of a dog’s snout on a closed pantry door might sound to some mice cowering on the other side. If you’re looking for toe-tapping tunes, keep looking—but if you want music that will set your imagination reeling, Young and Scranton are at your service.   v

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