Yakuza | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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This is a release party for the long-anticipated Samsara, the first release from this local experimental metal band since 2002's well-received Way of the Dead. The guys aren't especially slow workers, and they weren't trying to be coy--by the time they finished touring behind Way of the Dead and started writing new material, it was already early 2004. Plus they financed the album themselves and then shopped it around, finally signing to LA's Prosthetic Records in August. Was it worth the wait? Oh hell yes. Much is made of Yakuza's world-music, post-rock, and jazz influences--it's pretty hard to miss front man Bruce Lamont's lush spirals of processed saxophone--but they aren't just flinging all kinds of poo at the walls with no rhyme or reason. They move fluidly from rain-forest ambience to sinister desert-nomad groove to frantic abacus metal--but though you don't have to love Moroccan trance music and free jazz and Can remixes in order to love Yakuza, it does help. Every track on Samsara is constructed carefully and deliberately, stone by stone and riff by riff and howl by howl. There's just no proper response except awe to the moment in "Glory Hole" when the maelstrom parts like the Red Sea to reveal avant-jazz pianist Jim Baker, playing his own private meditation under quiet cascades of guitar--it's as though Godzilla had pulled open the scaly hide of his chest to show you a sacred jeweled lotus flower hovering inside, wreathed in flame. Other guests on the album include cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, bassist and sound artist Sanford Parker of Buried at Sea, and Mastodon vocalist Troy Sanders. Local Isis worshippers Angel Eyes and a Florida four-piece called 3 open. Sat 3/25, 10 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $8, 18+.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Sonya Siedlaczek.

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