The Juan Maclean: Live Last Night

Live Last Night

Being able to synthesize any sound you can imagine is convenient, but also a little boring. That must be why the Juan MacLean and the Field, on a "co-headlining" tour that visited the Black Cat Tuesday night, used some live instruments. Yet the machines still generated most of the music.

For "The Future Will Come," his second album of new material, the Juan MacLean added vocalist Nancy Whang and a strong interest in "Dare''-era Human League. Whang and two other musicians joined the MacLean (aka former Six Finger Satellite guitarist John MacLean), and the material came mostly from the new album. But Whang's voice was so heavily processed that the vocal melodies blended into the programmed riffs and pulses, live percussion and MacLean's frequent Theremin forays.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

The highlight was the set-closing "Happy House," which restructured and extended the 12-minute album version. "Launch me into space," Whang instructed before a long workout that gradually cooled way down, only finally to lift off. That's the route most club bangers take, but MacLean drove it with uncustomary aplomb.

The latest album from The Field (aka Swedish multi-instrumentalist Axel Willner) uses lots of non-electronic percussion, but on Saturday the only un-synthetic music elicited by Willner and his two cohorts came from the guitars that all three played (though not all at the same time). On a darkened stage, the trio performed an hour of instrumental music that moved from the Steve Reich-derived ripplings of Willner's recent work to more exuberant fare. Most listeners grooved calmly, but by the end a few people had begun to dance.

--MARK JENKINS

By David Malitz |  May 24, 2009; 6:22 PM ET Live Last Night
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