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Thursday, December 14

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Transmission
« Destroyer and Azita @ Old Town School of Folk Music Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - November 2013 »

Concert Wed Nov 06 2013

My Bloody Valentine @ Aragon 11/03

mybloodyvalentine.jpg

Several years ago, I saw a performance by the avant-garde composer, Roc Jimenez de Cisneros. The piece was entitled "Tetralemma + Tetrafluoroethane" and was written for computer and air horns. To make the piece work, Cisneros meticulously altered a batch of air horns so that each one had a different pitch and key. Some horns were loud and sharp, while others were surprisingly subtle and sombre. The majority of the horns, though, occupied an ambiguous grey area between noise and melody. Over a sparse ambient skeleton produced by the composer's laptop, he and his makeshift orchestra started to use the various horns. Different horns of different sounds were used for different amounts of time at different locations throughout the performance space. One horn would create a loud droning sound while others created subtle bursts seemingly all around you. Things appeared to be a maddening mess, but slowly a pattern emerged. Engulfed by this odd wall of sound, a sense of catharsis took over as once familiar individual objects and noises found themselves transformed into a union of weirdness. It was an abrasive and experimental work, making the point that there is a kind of beauty in extremity.

It was with this in mind that I came to the Aragon this past Sunday night to watch the return of My Bloody Valentine, who are currently on tour in support of their first album since 1991, the long anticipated m b v. As I approached the building I was greeted by an ominous sign warning me to use earplugs due to the absolute intensity of the sound. You see, My Bloody Valentine are notorious for their incredibly loud shows. The sound is so loud that people who have not worn earplugs have experienced minor permanent hearing loss. As I entered the building a worker at the door was giving away industrial strength earplugs to everyone who passed by, actively urging people to use them to protect themselves. This action proved to be appropriate. Once inside my eyes were drawn to a wall of over ten menacingly large guitar amps meticulously stacked atop each other and scattered throughout the stage, looking a bit like an ancient and revered monument.

With little warning the band suddenly appeared and started to play their landmark single, "Sometimes." It immediately became apparent why earplugs were so necessary. The sound was...tremendous. The bass was overwhelming, physically applying pressure to your chest. It went like this for the majority of their set. Encapsulated by this large sound, guitar chords mutated and became something foreign and strange. And all of this was led by a quiet balance as Kevin Shields sang in a soft angelic voice almost eclipsed by the sound he and his comrades created.

In between selections from Isn't Anything and Loveless, the band played a few things from their latest album, m b v. Accompanied by bizarre Stan Brakhage-like visuals, songs like "Only Tomorrow" and "Wonder 2" came to life. The instantly recognizable classic "Only Shallow" turned the audience fanatical as Shields crooned, "sleep like a pillow" and the band gazed at their shoes and manipulated the ever increasing sound.

The intensity never faltered throughout the night and was perfectly mirrored by the calm and distant demeanor the band carried as they performed. This reached its conclusion during the final song, "You Made Me Realise." They took a brief musical idea in between verses and transformed it into a 12 minute storm of noise, raising the volume to higher and frightening levels. It was gloriously brutal. And then, silence.

 
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Hope Adams / November 20, 2013 11:52 PM

Really nice blog...

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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