Veteran Viennese trio Radian settles into new worlds of sound with guitarist Martin Siewert | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Veteran Viennese trio Radian settles into new worlds of sound with guitarist Martin Siewert



Austrian guitarist Martin Siewert has always stood out to me for using his instrument like an arsenal of paintbrushes. In his many projects, including improvisational and experimental outfits Trapist and Efzeg, he thoughtfully applies his sound upon whatever canvas the group conjures. And since joining the Viennese trio Radian in 2011, he’s brought the group’s dry, instrumental strain of post-This Heat noise and rhythm closer to rock than it’s ever been—though any band that has a rhythm section of drummer Martin Brandlmayr and bassist John Norman will never sound like a normal rock band. Last year the group released On Dark Silent Off (Thrill Jockey), first album with Siewert—aside from a terrific 2014 collaboration of Radian and Giant Sand leader Howe Gelb. On the title track he adds discrete strums on an acoustic guitar, while on the opener, “Pickup Pickout,” his corrosive tones swell from abstraction into the whoosh of a power chord. “Scary Objects” is a veritable symphony of Siewert’s techniques, its narrative constructed from fuzz, feedback, long needling tones, hydroplaning vibrato, and terse fragments of sinister licks over characteristically taut, twitching beats and swells of liquid bass. Across seven new pieces the trio sustain an exciting tension between neck-snapping rhythms and ever-shifting sounds, as Siewert extrapolates over Brandlmayr’s disparate, chopped-up grooves. I’ve always loved Radian’s records, but the visceral thrill of the trio’s sound increases in their live performances, where the tactile crispness of their music is heightened.   v

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