In early July 2019, Chris Forsyth pulled three lauded Chicago musicians together to rehearse for a single day before they set out on a short three-night tour—Doug McCombs of Tortoise on bass, Jaime Fennelly of Mind Over Mirrors on synth, and Areif Sless-Kitain of the Regulator Watts on drums.
Before hitting Acme Records in Milwaukee and finishing at the Hideout in Chicago, they made their first live appearance together at the Fraternal Order of Eagles #34 in Powderhorn, Minneapolis, the fabled meeting place of young punks and irritated townies confused at the noise coming from one of the ballrooms that’s drowning out Karaoke at the bar. (I once saw Marrisa Anderson play an intimate set here and she had to fight over the Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock rendition coming through the door.)
Forsyth wanted to make ammends with the bar denizens from the start, so just before his set he bellied up to the karaoke station and sang Blue Oyster Cult’s Buring for You as only a a deep BOC fan can.
Time is the essence
Time is the season
Time ain't no reason
Got no time to slow
Time is always on your mind when recording a set on tape. You don’t have the luxury of of gigabytes of space like you do on a portable digital recorder. Chris estimated that the set would go 50-80 minutes, which meant I’d have to use the only reel of tape with 90 minutes of recording time I had available (which I’d already recorded on more than a couple times) giving this recording a nice grimy sheen. In retrospect I like it better for that though. There are a few dead spots on the tape where the iron oxide is wearing thin, and the band crumbles out of the air for a moment, but I’ve come to like those weird spots on repeat listens. The set still sounds incredibly vital, and the band eager to explore together, particularly once they really gets cooking on Dreaming the Non Dream.
Chris Forsyth - guitar, vocal
Doug McCombs - bass guitar
Jaime Fennelly - synthesizer
Areif Sless-Kitain - drums
If you wanna check out some other sets from this run to compare, you can hear them play the hideout a few days later here.
Opening the set was Cassini—a new band born out of a desire to play live-band versions of some of Steve Palmer’s recorded tracks, but which has quickly evolved into its own independent vehicle. Full disclosure, I also play in this band, and this was our first show. We played interpretations of a couple of tracks on Steve’s upcoming release, as well as one from his first (which is also our namesake).
IOSIS is a conjurer of deep, haunting drone, driving modular synths through ungodly pedal combinations and occasionally getting a singing bowl screeching in harmony. His stuff rolls out slowly, like a snake quietly rising out of a cave in the dark until its towering above you before you realize it. He’s also my old neighbor, a Drone Not Drones regular, and a fixture of Minneapolis experimental and noise music. He made for a nice contrast to the guitar-centric rest of the set. I thought of it as the Drums/Space portion of the evening.
It’s been a while since the last Southern Jukebox Music post. Fortunately I’ve got something else in the can ready to go very soon, so look out for something else in a week or so.