Todd Rittmann spent over a decade at the heart of U.S. Maple, one of Chicago’s eminent post-hardcore bands in the grand tradition of Big Black and Shellac. His latest project finds the guitarist reaching deeper into noise-rock, making merry with fractured riffs, spasmic rhythms and vaguely paranoiac vocals. The first two albums were largely centered on Rittman’s distorted guitar splurges, but Chills On Glass feels more expansive.
The key difference is the band’s appropriation of electronica, with the dual synths of Andrea Fraught and Thymme Jones adding dense textures and, as on Weird Summer and Four Cocks, a twitchy layer of techno.
Of One Thousand Aside is a slight concession to ‘normal’ rock, but the bulk of this record is busily experimental. New Eyes is a ruptured collage of sounds with a vocal turn that pitches Rittman in some avant netherworld between Skip Spence and Berlin-era Bowie. Elsewhere, Dead Rider carry distinct echoes of early Bad Seeds, Blixa Bargeld and John Cale in his freakoid hockey-mask phase.
Not an album to throw your arms around after a first date, but given time it reveals itself as a dark, if bruising, pleasure.