http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-moritat-chicago-music-empty-bottle-venus-laurel-20141126-story.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-moritat-chicago-music-empty-bottle-venus-laurel-20141126-story.html

Moritat just might be the most agreeable, harmonious local band. Formed in 2009, the members — Venus Laurel, Konstantin Jace and Corey McCafferty — bring years of deep personal relationships, artistic theory and outside influence into their work. They are a band uncompromised and uncompromising, even in their fifth year together. Now, as Moritat prepares to release its new album, "High Plus Tight," in January and is set to headline a show at the Empty Bottle, its members are eager to continue pushing the boundaries of their sound.

The strength of the band's interpersonal relationships is its true core. Laurel and Jace have known each other for 15 years, and are now engaged. Until recently, the trio resided in a work/live compound in Albany Park. Laurel and Jace occupied the top floor, McCafferty the floor below, and the basement served as a practice area.

Moritat functions and thrives by maintaining a harmonious balance of friendship and professionalism. "We share a lot of books, a lot of literature. From those relationships or cultural points, I feel like that's what's kept (the band) going," Jace said. "We have a kind of sympathetic communication, but there are no fights."

Music then is not a challenge or a hump to overcome in their free time, but a fluid thrill for like-minded individuals. Albums are not a toil, but a chance to collect their ideas and translate them to the rest of the group. They take their time with each new release, but are not idling in search of ideas. Rather, they trust in each other and translate their music from the mind of one creator (in this case, Laurel, who wrote songs using the Reason software) to the minds and instruments of the others.

"It's about having these strong relationships with each other and having these channels open," said Laurel. "With these channels to just feel so free and make those cheesy chord progressions, from there, we can usually come up with something pretty damn good."

It also allows them to grow and write artistically without the constraints of genre. Many genre names were applied to Moritat's sound in the past, from avant pop to art rock to indie R&B, but none seem to stick or accurately portray the full scope of the songs.

"We just wanted to be free to write how we want with the idea that there are stories in the songs," Jace said. "We wanted to start a band, but not really be confined to a limited genre and instead be really free about the compositions."

Consider a track like "Visits," a jammy and soulful down-tempo gem with a minutelong instrumental buildup. It sounds indebted to the art rock of decades past, but there are psychedelic elements in the song's lyrics, such as when Laurel sings, "The moon / It hits the house of Jupiter."

"It's much more of a sensation or feeling approach," Laurel said when describing the process of creating their songs. "We would actually just jam for hours at a time, free-form and experimenting, while also bringing fully formed songs already to the table."

This refusal to conform to genres also plays out in how they interact with the vast, eclectic local music scenes. Jace considers their band somewhere in the middle of the city's disparate scenes. Musicians tend to keep to their own and rarely work outside of the invisible boundaries. If they do work outside of their scene, it is often with musicians who do not live here, finding commonalities in their microsounds rather than where they live.

But Moritat has found a way to circumvent these limitations. In the past, the group has gotten a remix for its song "Automatic Lover" from The-Drum, a local production duo whose music would sound equally at home in R&B clubs and eerie David Lynch films. And the members are deeply influenced by the musicians around them. Bands like local art rockers Chandeliers are not a source of direct competition, but help inspire Moritat's further exploration of its experimental, free-form style.

The upcoming show is a test of the trio's ever-progressing sound. "This album has the most energy we've ever created as a band," said Laurel. It will be their first performance of this new material and they've previously put off performing live to refine the group's sound. With a working and familial relationship this secure, nerves don't play into Moritat's work.

"It really is about writing these songs," said Jace. "We'll let this unfold in the most natural way. From there, we can keep creating these new worlds."

onthetown@tribpub.com

Twitter @chitribent

When: 9 p.m. Dec. 2

Where: Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Ave.

Tickets: $5 (21+); 866-777-8932 or emptybottle.com

 

 

 

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