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Three Beats: Yakuza keeps spreading out on Beyul

Plus: The Spektral Quartet gets cozy with the U. of C., and the Captcha label helps beef up the sound program at ACRE

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METAL: Yakuza keeps spreading out on the new Beyul

Chicago avant-garde metalband Yakuza release Beyul, their sixth full-length and second for Profound Lore, on Tue 10/16 (with a listening party Wed 10/10 at Liar's Club). Plenty of metal bands incorporate jazz and world-music influences, but few integrate them so seamlessly and purposefully. Yakuza function very well as a tight four-piece, but they like to invite friends and sprawl out: guests on Beyul include cellist Helen Money, vocalists Tim Remis (Sweet Cobra) and Angela Mullenhour (Sybris), and improvising saxophonists Mars Williams and Dave Rempis.

I caught up with Yakuza front man Bruce Lamont—also a vocalist and/or saxophonist in several other groups, including Bloodiest and Circle of Animals, as well as an organizer and booster of farmers' markets—between a grocery run and his gig tending bar at the Empty Bottle. Beyul was recorded, mixed, and mastered in a speedy eight days, he told me, because the band and producer Sanford Parker "have it down to a science by now." I also asked him what we both knew was kind of a stupid question—whether organic food from local farmers has made his lungs stronger. "I think you know the answer to that," he said. "Yes, it makes my lungs stronger, and other things too." Lamont further denied ever having impersonated Robert Plant in front of a mirror before taking on his tribute band, Led Zeppelin 2.

When I asked him what he hoped listeners would take away from Beyul, he said, "I never impose my will on listeners. They will take away what they take away."

So far, what I'm taking away from the album is rapt admiration of its subtlety and complexity, which detracts from Yakuza's raw force not one bit. I'm also feeling again the joy I've always found in Chicago musicians' welcoming openness to collaboration, even in the fiercest and most challenging of genres.

Monica Kendrick

Next: The Spektral Quartet gets cozy with the U. of C.

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