Fred Lonberg-Holm: Site-Specific | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Fred Lonberg-Holm: Site-Specific 

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Site-Specific, the first release by the local indie label Explain, sports ubiquitous cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm's name on its sleeve, and sure enough, every cut benefits from his wealth of styles and extended techniques. But the record's not so much a showcase for him as it is a remarkable collection of improvised guitar music. Lonberg-Holm performed its 12 duets during a 13-day stretch last summer in the homes of a dozen local artists and musicians: Jim O'Rourke, Ben Vida, Kevin Drumm, Todd Rittmann, Michael Krassner, Charles Kim, Jeb Bishop, John Corbett, Helen Mirra, Michael Zerang, Adam Sonderberg, and Jim Baker. These field recordings make no attempt to exclude incidental sounds, so one track ends when Rittmann's phone rings, and others are punctuated by barking dogs, distant sirens, incessant car horns, or passing el trains. Improv all-stars like Jim O'Rourke and Kevin Drumm acquit themselves with their usual aplomb: the former keeps Lonberg-Holm on his toes by segueing from splintered patterns into mellow, loungey chords, and the latter's tabletop guitar, though recorded in real time, sounds like a collage made from humming high-tension lines and the reverberations of amplified manhole covers. Some of the lesser-known players are equally inventive: Helen Mirra goads the cellist into abandoning his customary loquacity by persistently strumming a single chord with the impassiveness of a Buckingham Palace guard, and Adam Sonderberg scrapes teakettle whistles and prickly clusters from his instrument. And two of Lonberg-Holm's best foils aren't even known as guitarists--percussionist Michael Zerang bows the strings to summon a maelstrom of ghostly moans, and keyboardist Jim Baker plucks out a series of vertiginous, spiraling runs. This concert will celebrate Site-Specific's release by reuniting Lonberg-Holm with ten of his partners from the album. Jeff Parker and Adam Vida will stand in for O'Rourke and Zerang, who are out of town. Tuesday, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. BILL MEYER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Karen A. Peters.

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