Rob Frye is known as an multi-instrumentalist for Chicago groups such as CAVE and Bitchin’ Bajas. He has been a constant presence in Chicago’s underground scene, specifically with improvisational ensembles. The collective El is the Sound of Joy was a constant figure in the noise underground, and eventually gained some notoriety in jazz circles. A constant collaborator, Rob is able to give a unique voice in a variety of different kinds of ensembles, playing with poly-rhythms and sounds in his bicycle-based project Flux Bikes, experimenting with improvisational devices in Exoplanet, or exploring textures in Bitchin’ Bajas, Frye stands out, and we’re honored to have him this month. He’s joined by a cast of talented friends including Dan Bitney (Tortoise), Ben Lamar Gay (AACM), and many more. See a full list of the events so you don’t miss a night.
2/2 Flux Bikes* with Dan Bitney and visuals by Kyle Drouin -- Waddupp Sonn DJ party 2/9 Sueñolas* -- Exoplanet -- visuals by Katharina Ritter and USA Studio DJs 2/16 El is a Sound of Joy -- visuals by Ben Kolak -- DJ Funky Bitch 2/23 Bitchin' Bajas -- Jah Jah Cale -- visuals by brownshoesonly -- DJ Winston Lasker
from the Chicago Reader: Rob Frye has gained notoriety over the last couple of years for the malleable approach to musical hypnosis and melodic beauty he’s brought to both Bitchin Bajas and Cave, but the weekly February residency at the Hideout that begins tonight will show there’s more to his aesthetic. Perhaps nothing demonstrates his ideals better than his project Flux Bikes, which he refers to as a “social practice.” Until recently I knew that this venture generated certain sounds by using contact mikes to amplify different bicycles parts as percussion, but I never knew how integral the bike was. Frye designs each performance as a kind of sustainable ritual by first riding to the show and then turning the bike into an instrument. The practice has extended well beyond Chicago, as he’s toured on wheels throughout Spain and between Austin and New Orleans—during which he was outfitted with a solar-powered sound system. This makes for a lovely backstory, but the music Frye creates in this manner measures up to the method. As heard on his 2014 cassette Prototype (Catholic Tapes), directed by a keen sense of dynamics, he builds mesmerizing percussive grooves that convey a strangely enveloping warmth akin to West African music, with passages of flute, saxophone, bass clarinet, and guitar beautifully floating over the loops. For this performance Frye will be joined by percussionist Dan Bitney of Tortoise fame, and Kyle Drouin will deliver abstract video accompaniment.