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Listen to more music from the background

As promised, we continue our bi-monthly voyage into the background music on WBEZ. Some great records have landed on our desk recently and we're throwing some fantastic older stuff into the mix as well. Let's get right to it.
Isotope 217 / "Harm-O-Lodge" / Who Stole The I Walkman? / Thrill Jockey [audio:]
Who Stole The I Walkman?
You might call Isotope 217 a supergroup if collaborations among this particular pool of Chicago musicians weren't so common. This project features members of local staples Tortoise and The Chicago Underground Duo (among others). The record -- released back in 2000 -- is a moody amalgam that's more than the sum of its jazz, rock and electronic ingredients.

Vandermark 5 / "Cover to Cover" / Simpatico / Atavistic


While we're looking at the connectivity of the Chicago scene, we'd be remiss not to mention Ken Vandermark. The jazz saxophonist has been in town since 1989 performing with musicians that run the gamit of jazz and experimental music. This cut is from the 1999 release Simpatico. The combo's 16th record is due out this month.

George-Edwards Group / "Easternia" / 38:38 / Drag City

Edward Balian and Ray George recorded these lonely folk songs in the mid-70s with acoustic guitars, chimes and haunting synthesizers. The results are undeniably pop, but the low fidelity gives them a mesmerizing and mysterious quality. "Easternia" is an instrumental cut from the LP 38:38 that was reissued on the Galactic-Zoo Disk imprint via local label Drag City.

The Books / "All You Need Is A Wall" / The Way Out / Temporary Residence Ltd.

The Way Out
This duo has been releasing melodic compositions of delicate instrumentation and odd found sounds over the course of three albums. Their fourth release The Way Out continues that tradition with grace. Audio producers were treated to a preview of this record's samples earlier in the year when The Books offered them up as inspiration to the Third Coast International Audio Festival's 2010 ShortDocs competition.

To Rococo Rot / "Steele" / Speculation / Domino

We'll wrap things up in Germany, with the experimental trio To Rococo Rot (try spelling it backwards). What's great about this cut is that it utilizes a slow buildup -- taking the listener from a soundtrack to tragedy, then to a morose-but-groovy middle section and back again. It's the perfect music bed for late-night radio fiction if there ever was one.

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