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Concert Tue Feb 14 2012

Lotus, Conspirator, and Emancipator @ the Congress Theater, Friday 2/17

To someone like me, whose taste in electronic music developed at a time when wafting ambient acts like The Orb drew a lot of water, and even the "heavy" dance stuff wasn't much more than speedy disco with more low-end bump, a fair share of the modern electronic music being produced sounds something like R2D2 being shoved down a metal staircase. I'm solidly on board, however, with the lineup at the Congress Theater this Friday, which brings together Lotus, Conspirator, and Emancipator, three acts which manage to carve their own space in the spectrum of electronic sounds, while keeping a firm grip on the fundamentals.

Lotus is a band with its feet firmly in two different worlds. On one hand, they are a traditional rock group, with traditional instrumentation, and have long been stalwarts of the jam band and festival scene, appealing to the patchouli-scented masses with comparatively long-form songs and an obvious virtuosity. At the same time, the band has from its late-90s inception been at the vanguard of incorporating available electronic gadgets and gizmos to shape their sound into something like a live techno production, there on the stage, sans-studio. While their latest album, self-titled Lotus, gives a good taste of what the band is all about, they truly shine in a live setting, where their improvisational genius can come through.

Conspirator is a side project of Disco Biscuits members Aron Magner and Marc Brownstein and a rotating cast of characters from other notable bands such as The New Deal and Pendulum. While the Disco Biscuits certainly never shied away from electronic influences, helping to pioneer the space they share with bands like Lotus, Conspirator seems to represent a purer electronic expression for the Biscuit alums. Similar, for sure, but just a bit less Disco, more Wendy Carlos.

The only truly electronic act on the bill is Emancipator, the nom d' guerre of producer Doug Appling. Emancipator's style, showcased on his latest album Safe in the Steep Cliffs blends sampled instruments and sounds with understated drums, lending a soft touch to his well crafted compositions.

Lotus, Conspirator, and Emancipator play at the Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave., this Friday, 2/17 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $22 and the show is 17+.

 
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