Grails

Grails is a band most easily described as "restless". They've stubbornly pushed against the staid cliches of instrumental music and towards new sonic frontiers, creating heavily textured albums, stacked deep with epic song hooks and exotic instrumentation. Grails carry echoes of the classic bands of many genres, but they combine those various styles onto a single record, under one umbrella of musical freedom. They are the renowned stylistic globetrotters of a fanatical underground record collecting scene, able to hybridize their disparate musical heritage (from The Ventures to 'Tibetan Crime-Jazz') with grace and confidence to build new languages out of genres that were never intended to work together.

The first incarnation of Grails emerged in 2003 on Neurot Recordings with "The Burden of Hope" and then "Redlight" in 2004. The two albums, drawn from a common batch of recording sessions, were defined by a live and earthy folk/jazz style with almost no overdubbing or post-production.

The "Interpretations…" ep, recorded amidst a late 2004 European tour for Southern Records' 'Latitudes' series, revealed their international psych addictions and marked a seismic stylistic shift for the band. After the departure of violinist Timothy Horner, the recalibrated band released Black Tar Prophecies, Vol's 1,2,&3 on Important Records in 2006, their new mission statement for a dark, reckless approach to experimentation and the beginning of a string of releases that would meet with continuously escalating acclaim for their restless re-imagining of what instrumental music can be.

Their prolific release schedule continued with "Burning Off Impurities" in '07 (the band's first for Temporary Residence), while two more albums would follow quickly behind in 2008, "Take Refuge In Clean Living" (Important Records), and "Doomsdayer's Holiday".

The first Grails DVD, "Acid Rain", was released in April 2009, summing up their career by combining live footage and the video collage work of member Emil Amos, who, in 2008, also joined the band OM.

Wrekmeister Harmonies

Chicago-based sound artist J.R. Robinson has been creating live, ambient tonefields in museums around the US and Europe over the past two years-including the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Pompidou Center in Paris, and The Art Center Berlin.

Robinson has injected these recordings into collaborations with some like-minded heavy hitters from the noise, post-rock and jazz worlds such as David Yow (Jesus Lizard/Scratch Acid), Mark Shippy & Pat Samson (US Maple), Azita Youssefi, John Herndon & Jeff Parker (Tortoise), Keefe Jackson, Fred Lonberg-Holm and Ken Vandermark. The result (dubbed Wrekmeister Harmonies), is a distinctive hybrid of sound art and avant-garde musics, evoking the essences & influences of masterworks like Joe McPhee's Nation Time, Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music and the sound collages of Stockhausen.

Lilacs & Champagne

Lilacs & Champagne, the project of Grails' Emil Amos and Alex Hall, is built on warped samples and scorched guitar solos, creating a playful, psychedelic take on damaged funk and pop. The duo's 2012 self-titled debut suggested a template for a new kind of psychotic mood music, and the follow up, Danish & Blue, manages to be both darker and more ambitious. "Lilacs & Champagne was created to be a direct tribute to the musical outsiders of the past" says Hall.

Made up of sounds sourced from Scandinavian porn and hyper-obscure b-movies from the late '60s, Danish & Blue pulls from records other DJs wouldn't touch by strategy. "We want to twist the knife as far as it can go into sample-based methodology, by taking pieces of loner music history and empowering them to shed light on both the pathetic side of human life and its improbable beauty." says Amos.

Mid-album cut "Hamburgers & Tangerines" is built on moody keys and a subterranean groove that recalls both sleazy cop movies and cathartic late night revelations. Danish & Blue is an album that is disinterested in boundaries, unafraid to pull from every genre imaginable in service of a specific mood: from a dark lounge slither, to frustrated down-tempo, to wailing proggy guitar rock. It feels at once like a deeply personal journey through cultural ephemera and neon-lit samples that are collaged together so seamlessly that they're able to walk the border between tasteful and tacky with abandon.

It's hard to pull off such a cohesive mood piece from found sources, but Amos and Hall are so clearly in love with the sampled material that it never feels anything but natural. Title track "Danish & Blue" is all digital chaos and hyper-compressed drums, with the duo creating machine funk from vintage synth samples and expertly placed streaks of guitar. It's knowing but visceral, tongue-in-cheek but dead serious about mining unexpected and disparate places for golden moments. On the too-brief "Sour/Sweet," the duo crafts low-key beauty from stuttered drums and a distant, looped vocal sample that slowly teases out over warm vinyl crackle and piano. You feel like it should last forever.

$10.00 - $12.00

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Grails with Wrekmeister Harmonies, Lilacs & Champagne

Thursday, September 12 · Doors 8:30 PM / Show 9:00 PM at Local 506