Wrekmeister Harmonies, Ryley Walker, Circuit des Yeux | Bohemian National Cemetery | Experimental | Chicago Reader

Wrekmeister Harmonies, Ryley Walker, Circuit des Yeux Member Picks 17+ Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Recommended Image

When: Sat., Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m. 2014

On your first pass through Wrekmeister HarmoniesThen It All Came Down (Thrill Jockey), the latest release from Chicago composer and sound artist J.R. Robinson and friends, you can be excused for imagining you’re listening to a pretty, uplifting piece of hypnotic ambience, perfect for bringing on sweet dreams on a dark winter’s night—that is, until about ten minutes in, when a hellish voice starts to growl, and you remember that this 34-minute opus was inspired by imprisoned murderer Bobby Beausoleil and the occult underpinnings of the Manson Family. (“Then It All Came Down” is the name of a Truman Capote short story based on an interview with Beausoleil.) The decades-long popular fascination with Manson’s cult has to do with the duality between hippie idealism and bloody murder, and that’s what Robinson has set out to capture; in the liner notes he explains Beausoleil’s loose connections to Aleister Crowley, whom he calls “the Johnny Appleseed of dubious spirituality” (a brilliant zinger, though I think blaming him for Scientology is a little unfair). Though eerie and chilly, Then It All Came Down never stops being seductive, and in its final ten minutes it ripens into full-fleged doom-drone; repeated listenings are generously rewarding, with new dimensions presenting themselves every time. Robinson’s cast of capable players—including cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, guitarist Ryley Walker, several vocalists, and members of Bloodiest, Indian, Anatomy of Habit, and Disappears—work together seamlessly to shape the piece’s many twists and turns. This show, held in an indoor chapel at the beautiful Bohemian National Cemetery, seems designed to give you all sorts of chills, whatever the temperature. —Monica Kendrick

Price: $14, $12 in advance

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