David Grubbs & Susan Howe | Bond Chapel, University of Chicago | Experimental | Chicago Reader
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When: Sun., Feb. 26, 7 p.m. 2012
Former Chicagoan David Grubbs has been working with poet Susan Howe for nearly a decade, and last year they released their most dynamic and rewarding collaboration, Frolic Architecture (Blue Chopsticks). As she's often done in the past, Howe has written poetry both inspired by and borrowing from historical texts—in this case, she drew on manuscripts, sermon notebooks, books, and pamphlets by 18th-century theologian Jonathan Edwards (the man responsible for the sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"). By reading some texts with perverse exactitude—cutting off words as they're truncated on the decaying documents—Howe creates a rhythmic, consonant sound world full of tangled glottal stops and abandoned syllables. Grubbs plays Hammond organ, and beneath Howe's voice he layers electronic textures and field recordings of crunching gravel. The piece uses enigmatic phrases and denied resolution to create a kind of aesthetic of shards, and though it's hardly accessible it's no less thrilling for that. —Peter Margasak

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