Warp Nesh | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Since its founding in 1989, Warp Records has reigned as one of the most influential and groundbreaking electronic-music imprints. Its early 90s "Artificial Intelligence" series provided a template for what's now called IDM, or "intelligent dance music," and over the years the British label has introduced loads of new voices, including the wiggy drill 'n' bass of Squarepusher, the fractal beat science of Autechre, and the sybaritic electro-funk of Jimi Tenor. Nesh is a four-city tour loaded with recent Warp recruits but anchored by some the label's most important veterans. LFO, the duo of Mark Bell and Gez Varley, started the same year Warp did--they'd grown up with electro, and it bled into their lean acid-house tracks. The austere synthscapes of their 1991 classic Frequencies pushed gut-punching subharmonic bass to new extremes, but Bell and Varley parted ways after their second release, Advance (1996); Bell went on to contribute important production work to albums by Bjork and Depeche Mode, and is now at work on a new LFO disc. Nightmares on Wax (aka George Evelyn, who'll be spinning here as DJ Ease) has been with Warp since the 1991 release of A Word of Science: The 1st & Final Chapter. That album's hot-tub funk samples and neatly programmed breakbeats gave way in the late 90s to a bricolage of meticulously arranged soul and jazz snippets, and the new Mind Elevation marks yet another change in direction--but its stripped-down grooves are as forgettable as they are insinuating. Warp has also begun working with American acts, and a few are traveling as part of Nesh: Prefuse 73 is one of several names Atlanta's Scott Herren uses--he also performs as Delarosa & Asora and Savath & Savalas--and there's a streak of hip-hop in everything he does. Last year's terrific Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives turns rap inside out, cutting up verbal flows into weird stuttering rhythms that complement his matrix of jazzy samples, twitchy beats, and digital distortion. On early recordings fellow Atlantan Richard Devine copped heavily from the constantly morphing rhythmic landscapes of Autechre, but on his recent Aleamapper (released by Schematic in the U.S.) he veers into more abstract, noisy territory; fixed rhythms only occasionally emerge from the amorphous spookiness. The road show also includes Chris Clark, Jamie Lidell, Nautilis, and Luke Vibert; local DJs Ray_Rod and Warp round out the bill. Friday, August 2, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.

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