Chicago’s 97-Shiki have simultaneously become more mathy and more accessible. The vocals are toned down and they’ve thrown in some horns, which make the comparisons to free jazz all the easier. I like it when they base the groove around a guitar figure instead of a traditional rhythm instrument. But really, how did they get more complicated since their last release? They still sound like D. Boon and Ornette Coleman falling down a flight of stairs, but now the other speaker sounds like a lid rattling on top of a boiling pot. This music has the right kind of “What the fuck?” quality. It makes you want to return to it to decipher it, as opposed to casting it aside because it’s too cryptic. Headscratcher of the year, for sure.
–CT Terry (97-Shiki.com)