Chicago's Grün Wasser plays inviting but unsettling electronic pop. Info
Chicago electronic duo Grün Wasser balances industrial murk with sharply crafted hooks, creating a lot of darkly enveloping atmosphere with just a few meticulously sculpted elements. On "Fallen Knight," from the 2018 album Predator/Prey, vocalist Keely Dowd cuts to the front of the mix with a raspy performance that rubs up uncomfortably against a loop of a voice (maybe Dowd's, maybe not) murmuring the word "dust" over and over again, as producer Essej Pollock builds up a restrained but suspenseful pattern of grimy synth bass lines and itchy percussion. It's satisfyingly catchy, but leaves plenty of room for unease to seep in. The two take a more densely layered approach elsewhere, especially on "Natural," a track that shares a lot in common with the vocally driven avant-pop of Holly Herndon, but in any case, there's always a sense of possibility in Grün Wasser's music, never entirely bound by the dictates of electronic pop or those of experimental music.
The duo plays here ahead of the release of a new album, Not OK With Things. The two tracks that have been released so far from the album suggest Grün Wasser's view of dark, adventurous pop is only expanding. "Driving" builds dissonant pockets of reverb around a talk-sing vocal from Dowd, building up a resolutely hooky momentum even as it unsettles. On "Stranger's Mouth," Pollock uses misty synths and spartan beats to frame one of Dowd's most powerful and intimate vocal performances yet. I've yet to hear the album in full, so here's hoping the duo shares a lot of new material at this show. They'll share this bill at The Wisco with two other adventurous electronic duos, Minneapolis' Materials and Madison's Woodman/Earhart. —Scott Gordon