Cooper Crain doesn’t need New Year’s resolutions. The hard-working Chicago musician and recording engineer is as relentlessly driven as his band CAVE’s propulsive rhythms. So it’s no surprise he’s kicking off 2013 with a monthlong Hideout residency in the front bar featuring his side project, Bitchin Bajas, and that he plans to make the most of the opportunity to experiment live, rather than revisit old tones and zones.
If you’re wondering how to distinguish the two bands, CAVE is the one you ask to play your summer BBQ (a year ago, it played on a flatbed truck crawling down Milwaukee Avenue), and Bitchin Bajas are the one you tap to score your psychedelic short film. The former is buoyed by a funk-tinged yet modern take on motorik grooves, whereas the latter is a spaced-out synth sojourn into more vintage-sounding krautrock territory.
Live, Crain used to play solo to cassettes with backing tracks, layering crackling synths over undulating drones. This understated setup was a bit of an adjustment for fans of CAVE’s infectiously energetic shows. But now he’s collaborating with Rob Frye and former Mahjongg member Dan Quinlivan. Together, they’ve been recording a new Bajas record over the past few months, employing an analog delay/reel-to-reel tape-looping system popularized by Brian Eno. They’re using the residency to debut new material and each show will be recorded, making these four concerts (plus a one-off at the Hideout’s Chicago Psych Fest January 12) a rare chance to witness Crain’s creative process in real time.