Music » Critics' Picks

Mahjongg

9 p.m. Saturday, January 31. The Billiken Club, in the Busch Student Center on the campus of Saint Louis University, 20 North Grand Boulevard.

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Mahjongg specializes in robotic, yet tribal-sounding exploratory dance music. Retro-sounding eight-bit synth samples blend with heavily processed, gritty drum loops, hypnotic bass lines and intertwining vocal chants. But this Chicago outfit doesn't hang around in one stylistic neighborhood for very long — and it always seems to be pushing the limits of its electronic mad-science lab. "Mercury," from the band's 2008 album, Kontpab, incorporates low growling vocals that are reminiscent of Beck circa Odelay. Elsewhere, hints of world music rhythms, dance-floor staples like the vocoder and a trance-inducing bass-drum pulse set a foundation for dense, sonic explorations that let percussion take center stage. This allows room for the vocals to lull the listener into a surprisingly calm state, considering the constant barrage of textures in the music.

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