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From Member of Pelican, a Slowly Building Chord

By Jon Graef in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 18, 2010 8:40PM

Chord image via MySpace page

Though Chicago post-metal act Pelican is known for its in-depth, instrumental compositions, we’re sure they’ve never tried anything as high concept as what band offshoot Chord does with their second album, Progression.

Chord, the self-described power-ambient group featuring Pelican member Trevor de Brauw, explores a conceit that may inspire eye rolls in theory, but is downright inspired in practice. The band members of Chord chose three different chords to chart out. Those chords were then arranged into two different types of single compositions—one that encouraged freeform performances, and another that dictated the strength of the performances more closely. From there, Chord’s chord progressions build steadily, effortlessly reaching transcendence from what sounds like a self-gratifying music major’s worst nightmare.

Depending on whether listeners purchase the CD or vinyl versions of Progression, they’ll be experiencing two similar, but subtly albums on two different formats. Each album can be listened to, and enjoyed, separately, but the full impact of Progression can’t be truly felt unless the listener listens to both albums concurrently. It’s a neat exercise exploring the potential of both minimalism—the textures here are based around a single chord, after all—and indulgence, not unlike Ponytail member Dustin Wong’s recent solo effort, Infinite Love. Each tone and texture is laid out carefully, with effect-heavy guitars and simple piano lines contributing equally to the serene soundscapes.

Listeners can hear Chord’s chords reverberate off the walls of the cavernous Empty Bottle, whose dim lighting no doubt will provide the right kind of ambiance for the band’s record release show on Friday. Speaking of reverberation, be sure to catch opener Miracle Condition. The quartet builds quietly and steadily from a dream-pop, echo-laden whisper in order to blow the paint off clubs like Schubas with epic, weaving and winding psychedelic rock.

Chord, Miracle Condition and DJ Stalker play Friday, November 19, at The Empty Bottle, 1035 N Western, 10 p.m., $7, 21+