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Critic's Choice

The Sea and Cake

Drawing a line around The Sea and Cake isn't easy. Over the past eight years, the Chicago quartet, appearing Friday, March 7, at the Gothic Theatre, with Califone, has soaked up color from a broad palette of influences: indie pop, kraut rock, post-punk, jazz, funk and techno. Sound splotchy? It ought to -- and yet the band has honed its hard, clean minimalism to an even keener edge on its sixth album, One Bedroom. Guitarists Sam Prekop and Archer Prewitt, both accomplished solo artists, mix their tones with alchemists' synergy, while Eric Claridge's bass lines dart through the chords' dense fabric. Prekop, the group's lead vocalist, sings in cottony whispers about "fractions of a cloudy day" and "fighting in absentia." Patterns of vibes and synthesizers dance around like tufts of dandelion. And -- for a primer in dream-pop genealogy -- check out the angelic cover of Bowie's "Sound and Vision" that closes the disc. Layered with loops, drones and a jazzy inflection, One Bedroom almost sounds like Steely Dan as played by Stereolab -- which makes sense, considering that S&C drummer John McEntire, besides belonging to the noodly post-rock ensemble Tortoise, has produced the last four Stereolab albums. Most of the band's members are renowned visual artists as well, and they lend this spirit of composition to their music: The Sea and Cake stretches the indie-rock canvas well beyond its usual framework.

 
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