Chicago Underground Duo

Chicago Underground Duo

12″ Of Freedom

Thrill Jockey

Rob Mazurek will be instantly recognizable from his work with the excellent Isotope 217. Both he and Chad Taylor are involved in a number of other straight jazz projects, as well as with Chicago-based innovators like Jim O’ Rourke and Tortoise. Now that I have gotten your attention by invoking the name of that most holy of post-rock combos, we can discuss 12″ of Freedom with no further outbursts. I love the Chicago Underground Duo for their understanding that silence is golden, for their manipulation of space, for underplaying, for the stillness and late-night sadness with which they infuse their songs. 12″ of Freedom is wonderfully recorded; it has that intimate cavernous feel, like PJ Harvey’s Rid Of Me . While a couple of pieces, such as “Twelve Degrees of Freedom” and especially “January 15th” (which brilliantly welds bits of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have A Dream” to some explosive drumming), echo Isotope 217, the majority of this album is quite subdued. In fact, some songs seem like they barely even exist, as if they just fade like clouds. See “Not quite dark yet and the stars shining above the withered fields,” “The Big Bang Theory,” and “Gratitude” for evidence of this incandescence. The conceptual breakthrough of 12″ of Freedom would have to be “Waiting for you is like watching stillness grow enormous wings.” Discounting the loveliness of the song title, “Waiting…” is a lovely piece of tristessa. The sound of a radiating vibraphone invokes feelings of loss and regret without words. Beautiful hybrids. An ideal album for watching the stars go marching sadly home.

Thrill Jockey Records, Box 476794, Chicago, IL 60647

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