The man behind Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s curtain steps out alone | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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The man behind Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s curtain steps out alone


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Efrim Manuel Menuck is a founding member of the anti-capitalist symphonic rock ensemble Godspeed You! Black Emperor and the equally outraged Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra. In both of those groups, his muscular guitar is part of a vast sonic corpus of strings, tape loops, and pounding rhythm section. But on his recent solo LP, Pissing Stars (Constellation), Menuck’s anguished voice looms large over blasted, mostly electronic soundscapes. The songs on the album exorcise a preoccupation Menuck’s carried for 30 years; the affair between Entertainment Tonight hostess Mary Hart and playboy Mohammed Khashoggi, the son of arms dealer and Iran-Contra figure Adnan Khashoggi. While the couple’s union augured the convergence of cheap entertainment and expensive war machinery that currently powers the runaway train of our current head of state, for Menuck it also symbolized the persistence of love in the midst of nihilistic energies. He expresses this duality sonically, contrasting passages where his singing sounds even more ruined than the grainy sounds pushing through the speakers with others where he sounds positively redeemed. Menuck’s recent solo concerts have been stripped-down affairs that feature his voice over the layers of synthetic drones provided by Kevin Doria (Growing, Total Life). Two local artists open the concert: synthesist TALsounds and an improvising chamber quartet led by electric guitarist Daniel Wyche.   v

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