Charlotte Hug | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Charlotte Hug 

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Though she sometimes uses electronics to expand her palette, Swiss violist Charlotte Hug finds more primitive, organic ways to create sounds on her most recent solo album, 2003's Neuland (Emanem). By either moistening or slackening the hairs of her bow, she broadens and deepens her music, generating dual lines and unleashing double-stops that sound like an LP of a thrummed guitar played at 16 rpm. The heart of the album is a ten-piece suite called "House of Detention," which was inspired by a visit to London's dank, dim underground prison of the same name. After getting a feel for the acoustics and ambience of the place, Hug jotted down a series of visual impressions she calls sonicons; they look like little more than scribbles, but they guided her as she improvised the piece later in a Zurich studio. Using brooding, dissonant harmonies, high-pitched tones, jaggedly dragged phrases, and strangulated lines, she paints a harrowing portrait of dread and frustration, but she never falls into horror-movie sound track cliches. Hug is also a flexible and attentive collaborator: On Brilliant Days (For 4 Ears), a series of duets with Montreal computer musician Chantale Laplante, her brittle-sounding viola, enhanced by electronics, folds in and out of the hovering soundscapes; the music of the two players blends together and pulls apart in a meticulously considered way. Hug performs here with percussionist Michael Zerang as part of WNUR's fifth annual Chicago Sounds Jazzfest. She also performs with the Silver Measure on Sunday, October 30, at 10 PM at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont on a bill with the Denis Colin Trio (see Wednesday); call 773-935-2118. Sat 10/22, 7 PM, Wallis Theatre, Northwestern University, 1949 Campus, Evanston, 847-491-7101, $8, $5 students. All ages.

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