Sin Ropas

w/Michael, Sara Jaffe (of Erase Errata), Sofie Drinker

Sun May 18, Crocodile, 8 pm, $8 adv.

IT's HArd to keep track of how many offshoot bands have formed from Chicago's now-defunct Red Red Meat. Califone, Orso, Loftus--I'm sure that's just the tip of the iceberg, and a mere hint of what the future could hold for former Red Red Meat bassist Tim Hurley. His latest project, Sin Ropas, makes use of tiny sounds that billow until a song is completely taken over by them; the source of the noise then reveals itself to be a spiraling guitar line that grew out of nothing.

Like Red Red Meat's albums, Sin Ropas' Trickboxes on the Pony Line (Sad Robot) takes a few listens to fully blossom. At first it sounds completely masculine and a little indulgent, with a whole lot of hot and achy whining. It sounds like flat land, scorched grass, and factory exhaust, with no buena vista to offer hope of fresh air or greenness. Give the record a few more spins, though, and you'll begin to notice the lyrics, strangely overshadowed at first.

Hurley is barely intelligible on the Lynyrd Skynyrd-flavored opening track, "Hands Inside," sounding like he's singing with a mouth full of marbles. Still, the song is haunting and texturally compelling before it leads into "Butter on Cane"; its fatigued chorus swirls around spinning guitars like a whirl of dirt kicked up by a sultry breeze. Things get even more interesting as the album progresses: Distorted strings, organ, and even a muted glockenspiel coax Hurley up off the ground, and the singer registers in the vocal range memorably occupied by J Mascis at his most defeated--only it's Hurley's guitar doing the crying.

Like the band's 2000 debut, Three Cherries (Perishable), Trickboxes on the Pony Line is an exercise in paying careful attention, but its listless, languishing pace is trying at times; you have to be in the mood to just give your spirit over to it. Listeners possessing the proper amount of patience will be rewarded, though, with Hurley and drummer Danni Iosello's intricate instrumentation.