Saturday, April 4, 2009

Dirty Moves review

As denizens of a vibrant and eclectic music scene that hinges around the Shape Shoppe recording space on Chicago’s near South side, Chandeliers hail from the same community that includes the inventive Chi-town entities Icy Demons, Bronze, Killer Whales, Bird Names, and Mahjongg. With their 2008 debut The Thrush, the band introduced audiences to their own brand of keyboard-heavy dance rock -- a sound that twisted and shifted through an array of styles and compelling rhythms and proved that the band had a lot of tricks up its collective sleeve.

While listeners might’ve thought they’d gotten a fix on Chandeliers from what The Thrush had to offer, it now seems that we were only getting small part of the picture. The group’s new “mixtape” release, Dirty Moves, offers an extended look at the multi-faceted creative energy that filters into the group’s music.

Selected from a backlog of practice tapes that span the group’s four-year history, Dirty Moves not only charts the band’s evolution, but also displays their stunning artistic flexibility. Over the course of 33 tracks, we hear Chandeliers digging deep into groove mode, all the while engaging in the sort of open-eared improvisational interplay that fuels the band’s music, as melodic motifs get bounced around and the beat gets taken in unexpected and delightful directions. Over the course of 33 tracks, the group snakes all over the musical map and brilliantly runs through a diverse array of styles. From middle eastern synth-pop to Congotronic clatter, electro and 21st century techno-funk, plus a few slips in cinematic mode and a couple of brief sojourns into celestial realms.

Now available on Cassette and LP via the HBSP-2X label, Dirty Moves reveals the working processes of a group that’s percolating with ideas and restlessly pursuing possibilities. Tight on the one hand and loose on the other, occasionally gritty but consistently crafty -- those are the sort of moves (“dirty” and otherwise) that Chandeliers can call their own.

-- Graham Sanford