After U.S. Maple’s final Drag City album, 2003’s Purple In Time, almost all of the art-damage architects from the band splintered into a number of new projects. Per the difficult, unsettling, and unclassifiable sound and theatrical persona of U.S. Maple, the former members' new bands continue to forge interesting new ground. Guitarist Todd Rittman and later-era U.S. Maple drummer Adam Vida helped found the band Singer. After one album, Rittman left Singer to focus on a new project D. Rider, while Vida continued to release music with Singer on Drag City.
Meanwhile, U.S. Maple guitarist Mark Shippy and original drummer Pat Samson formed Miracle Condition, along with Matt Carson, a doctor of Bioinformatics. A discipline applying computer science to biology and medicine, Carson’s Bioinformatics background is a perfect complement to Shippy and Samson’s mathematically exploratory musical history. Still, the studio output from this trio (2009’s mini-album 68 Degrees and 2010’s self-titled debut LP) is the most approachable and melodic of all U.S. Maple's former members. Combining spaced-out droning with airy arrangements and gently layered vocals, Miracle Condition is easy for anyone to digest, yet still offers challenging composition, playing, and arrangements.
Miracle Condition recorded an Epitonic saki Session in early 2012, and while their session is recognizably "Miracle Condition," these live tracks are significantly different from their studio recordings, which is always a treasure for us at Epitonic saki. Without the benefit of isolated studio trickery, the group as a whole showcased their more challenging and technically proficient side with newer songs. Matt Carson providing a more minimal vocal delivery, while focusing on the angular riffing that largely maintained the disjointed melodic skeleton. Guitarist Mark Shippy offered up a reliable bed of effect-drenched droning, but unlike the studio recordings, his layers were more jagged and aggressive, harkening back to his older work. Drummer Pat Samson hangs back a bit in the mixes on Miracle Condition’s studio recordings, yet due to our small and ambient store space, his tumbling drum patterns are on more transparent display.
Composition-wise, these five tracks seem load with a mission to keep the audience guessing -- instead of creating an entrancing arch of sound, like their studio work. Is this a sign of where Miracle Condition is going with upcoming releases? Only time will tell, but it's perfectly clear that Miracle Condition is a great new band from important contributors to the Chicago post-art-math-rock scene -- contributors who have an abundance of new ideas for us all to enjoy.