Abstract Giants with Small Change and Treologic
Metro, Chicago, IL

Hip-hop bands are breeding faster than rats in Chicago. On this evening the crowd at the Metro experienced quite a range of talent of this kind—from the engaging to the snooze inducing. Openers Small Change kicked out a drunken hip-hop/rock fusion that actually worked. The occasional hint of reggae flavor only diversified their sound, which the growing crowd happily embraced. The next act, Treologic (As in Tree of Logic), generated pleasant but ultimately predictable grooves. Without taking risks a band like this is not likely to reap any rewards musically. After their 45-minute allocated time slot was up, it was obvious they had over stayed their welcome.
Headliners, Abstract Giants, celebrated the release of their CD, AGrowculture, with what was quite possibly their longest set to date. What's most impressive about this eight-man-crew is that they can allow a violinist to be in the forefront as much as they can their guitarist. While chemistry isn't much of a problem for the AG, audibility is. On the more aggressive numbers MCs, Two Moons Mathismo, Apitight and Ronnie Physicals' often-timid-voices are almost completely drowned out by the barrage of instruments (The Metro's mics are partially to blame). Nonetheless the show carried on as the rhyme-sayers kept on rocking it—and more audibly as they kicked out their more laid-back-numbers. It was only fitting that towards the end of the night keyboardist Matt Conway, violinist Jason VinLuan, drummer Andy Lempara, guitarist Cary Kanno and bassist Matt Sherrell were given their own time to shine. At one point a smoke machine was used near Conway, implying that he was on fire from the way he was tapping those 88 keys. As gimmicky as that move was it brought smiles to many faces. With yet another show under their belt, the Abstract Giants looked like they were having as much fun on stage as ever--even if they weren't always coherent.
----- Max Herman, Blur Magazine

Abstract Giants
6/18, Schubas
These locals take such an audacious approach to hip-hop that despite their huge toolbox--a five-piece band (including turntables and electric violin) plus three MCs (no waiting!)--they sometimes still sound like architects trying to reconstruct the Great Pyramids with sticks and pebbles. This sort of overreaching is nothing to be ashamed of, though: even in its weirdest, trippiest moments, their full-length debut, Agrowculture (available at abstractgiants.com), partakes of the True Spirit of Hip-Hop--it's a joyous creative exploration that thumbs its nose at the genre's self-appointed gatekeepers. Bumpus headlines.

----- Monica Kendrick, Chicago Reader

“2004 will also mark the return, the debut and the coronation of some of
Chicago's most recognized, most followed, and most sought acts. In one year the
city will have new releases from the veterans All Natural (All Natural Inc.),
the internationally loved Typical Cats (Galapagos 4), the legendary O-Type Star
(Frontline) and the electric live band Abstract Giants (Pull 'Em Up), whose
shows gain followers almost daily. Add up the elements and what you'll find is
something set to explode. In 2004 look for Chicago hip-hop to make a national
buzz, show unprecedented cooperation, and pepper the industry with high quality,
greatly anticipated product.” ----David Jakubiak, Chicago Red Streak

“Picture a violin wailing as three MCs spit semi-automatic bursts of rhymes and
you'll begin to envision the draw of Abstract Giants, an eight-piece hip-hop
band that draws as much from Tito Puente as it does from The Roots.
When the band performs, their origins are evident. They seem like a
post-integration, suburban version of Fat Albert's Junkyard Gang…..”
----Chicago Sun Times

Hip hop band. It's not too common to see those three words written in that
order, is it? When you do, more often than not you'll be reading about Philly
innovators The Roots. You can understand my excitement when I realized that
we've now got our own version of that legendary group right here in our
backyard. ….. [the abstract giants] all immensely talented, and upon first
listen, you'd think the band has been playing together forever. Amazingly, it's
only been about two years since the group's inception.
Ladies and gentlemen, there's finally a reason for you to take that copy of The
Low End Theory out of your CD player. The golden era of hip hop may be long
gone, but the Giants are truly the next big thing.
---Spencer Lokken, Chicago Innerview magazine

This expansive, eight-member outfit might not be the future of hip-hop, but they
are definitely pointing the way. Plugging out an increasingly eclectic take on
the genre, these Chicago natives blend a dozen music forms into the
traditionally beats-and-drums music, flexing above-average rhyming skills over
the top. …….just know that the act goes leagues beyond the same old funk-sample
hip-hop, blending in pieces and parts of rock, various world musics and even a
kind of free-form acid jazz that's awash with creativity. Completely worth
seeing, especially considering the live element they bring (keyboards, strings,
live percussion, bass) to set them apart from the turntable-microphone cliché.
----Dave Chamberlain, New City Music Magazine

Take a classically-trained violinist, seasoned keys/guitar/percussion players,
and three MCs and you come up with Abstract Giants, whose four-song demo just
may be the first hip-hop/fusion fusion. Got that? Heavier than Mahavishnu and
about the same weight as The Flock with greater jazzbo sensibility than either
and totally encased in a hip-hop wrapper, this could be the makings of the next
"next thing."
---David C. Eldredge, Illinois Enertainer music magazine


With musical influences ranging from hip-hop to rock, from Common to Radiohead,
the Abstract Giants prove their diversity on more than one level. Any Abstract
Giants track can be appreciated for its layering. Whenever classical instruments
are combined with rapping emcees, people's ears perk up. Abstract Giants,
though, demonstrate a true ability to blend these sounds together
successfully……..the Abstract Giants truly dress the stage with an array of
flavors and spice.
---Amy Owens UW-Madison’s Badger Herald

The eclectic sound they produce ranges from hip-hop to funk to jazz to Latin to
bossa nova.
---BY MYRNA PETLICKI, Pioneer Press News

I can’t believe how far this band has come over the past 2 years.
----Fred Brennon, Music Director, Chicago Special Events


On Thursday night at 9 p.m. the Chicago band Abstract Giants will
celebrate the release of their debut album "AGrowculture" at Metro......If you don't have plans and you A. enjoy good music; or B. have any interest in the future of hip-hop, rock and pop, check it out. If you go you can witness a musical revolution.......beneath the glamour and the glitz of the successes, there is something else happening in Chicago. It's happening in clubs like Gunther Murphies,HotHouse and Hog Head McDunnas, where groups of musicians set up and rockout with live hip-hop. It's a musical movement that is incorporating the best elements of live instrumentation with the raw energy of hip-hop. It's vision set forth by bands like The Roots and Stetsasonic, but that bands like Abstract, Treologic, Small Change, Organic Mind Unit and Contriband are taking to a new level by developing sound that is not only fresh, but that
is unique to Chicago. Out of the spotlight, they're creating a "Chicago Sound" that builds on
Chicago's blues, soul and rock roots. It's a sound that isn't easy to write
about because its parts aren't equally separated like two-parts funk and
one-part rap. With any of the bands you're likely to find a rhythm driven by
salsa or punk; a rhythm that's not tailor-made for the MC, but that the MC
adapts to and weaves with spitfire lyrics. Or you're likely to see them
morph, before your eyes, from a hip-hop crew to an atmospheric jam band. More likely you'll hear all four: punk, salsa, hip-hop, jam band. It's what hip-hop does. It samples and creates something new. In this sense these bands are expanding the boundaries of hip-hop. It's so
far from two turntables and a mike. It is live musicians. As folks like to
compartmentalize things, in the end this new Chicago Sound may not even be
considered hip-hop. But make no doubt it is real hip-hop. And if you doubt that live instrumentation is an ever-important element of hip-hop -- or if you think that hip-hop isn't about live bands -- look no further than Kanye West's recent three-night stand at the House of Blues. Not only did his show incorporate live keys and guitar, one of its highlights was Miri Ben-Ari, the Israeli-born violinist who ripped hip-hop classics with a bow. I mean, there is nothing more hip-hop than violin, right? Actually, if you do check out Abstract Giants, you'll see another hip-hop
violinist, Jason Vinluan, who, by the way, could rip Ben-Ari. And you should hear what a hip-hop violin does when it's backed by a whole band.

----- David Jakubiak, Chicago Red Streak

 

Few bands can pull of an eclectic, electric, adaptable method for music madness the way Chicago-based absTRACT giANTS can.....The way the Giants balance chaos and order- carefully, but seemingly effortlessly - might explain some of their success. Ultimately, weather listeners "get" their band's subtleties or not, audiences cant help but get into their infectious sound: electric violin mingling with jazz piano, hints of Calypso percussion beating behind strong dance rhythms, all brought together on the turntable to form a base of sound for the silver-tounged MC's..........Listeners from all kinds of musical backgrounds can get into the Giants.

- - - By Mandy Burrell, Wednesday Journal