Chuck Erlichman's music is at one moment as familiar as Buddy Holly and at the next an abstract Dadaist poem, melding the mournful lament of Hank Williams with an 80s electronic dance hit. His hooks are sick and stick with you for days as you decode the meaning and poetry of his lyrics. An accomplished musician with a piano and choir foundation (singing with the COC as a kid), Erlichman is as comfortable with bluegrass acoustic as he is on his Nord keyboard. In his 2010 release Look Alive, he played all parts, layering recorded drum beats over digital, creating a wild electronic opus. His new album Open City takes the opposite direction. Working with Matthew Barber on the drums and James Thompson on bass, Erlichman went analogue, recording and mixing on an 8 track tape machine. With heavy improvisational and collaborative elements, the results are immediate, with imperfections allowing the audience to recognize the moment of creation rather than a composite of different performances. Witnessing them live (with Matt Cowley stepping in on bass), you can sense a trust and openness between musicians, and that they are all skilled enough to walk without a net, with the priority to build rhythm and mood, sparking electricity in the moment.
Erlichmen play this Friday, April 5th at Not My Dog (1510 Queen St. W), with joining guest Doug Paisley.
Open City is available on cassette and itunes.