Colin Stetson, Frank Rosaly, Sarah Neufeld | Schubas | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Colin Stetson, Frank Rosaly, Sarah Neufeld 

When: Sat., June 23, 10 p.m. 2012
Price: $12
With his arsenal of extended techniques and affinity for pop, saxophonist Colin Stetson has contributed to the Arcade Fire and Bon Iver in ways you'd never expect from a horn player, using his instrument to supply a symphony of colors and textures, from "bass" lines to "string section" parts. Nowhere are his versatility and imagination more apparent than in his amazing solo work, where he uses every trick he's got—circular breathing, multiphonics, overtones, vocalizations, key popping—to create hypnotic pop songs. On last year's spectacular New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges (Constellation) Stetson finesses great range from his instrument (most often the unwieldy bass saxophone, but sometimes alto or tenor), augmenting it by singing through the horn as he plays—and he's got a contact mike on his throat to pick up those sounds at their source too. Amazingly, the album uses absolutely no overdubbing or looping; in the studio he placed ten or so microphones in and around his saxophone, and mixing engineer Ben Frost manipulated those inputs like a conductor. Overtones became ghostly harmonies, inhalations became spooky textures, key clicks became beats, wordless hums became tender melodies, and Stetson's explosive honks, graceful phrases, and marathon swirls of snaking circular-­breathing patterns, miked from so many different vantage points, became a full orchestra. Laurie Anderson, another of Stetson's employers, contributes spoken word on a few pieces, and Shara Worden from My Brightest Diamond provides a devastating reading of Blind Willie Johnson's "Lord, I Just Can't Keep From Crying," but most of the record is instrumental. The music doesn't rely on Stetson's astounding technique for its power, but when he reproduces it onstage it's nonetheless a marvel to behold. Chicago drummer Frank Rosaly and Arcade Fire violinist Sarah Neufeld open with solo sets; Stetson also plays with Toby Summerfield's Never Enough Hope on Sunday at the Empty Bottle and the Hungry Brain. —Peter Margasak


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