Hal Rammel, Ken Vandermark, Olivia Block, Michael Zerang, Jaap Blonk | Constellation | Experimental | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Hal Rammel

Hal Rammel

John Kannenberg

Hal Rammel, Ken Vandermark, Olivia Block, Michael Zerang, Jaap Blonk 

When: Sat., July 2, 7 p.m. 2016
Price: $30
Though tonight’s extravaganza is organized to fete both the 30th anniversary of Experimental Sound Studio and the departure of executive director Lou Mallozzi, there’s another anniversary lurking in the background. Celebrated improvisational musicians saxophonist Ken Vandermark, sound artist Olivia Block, percussionist Michael Zerang, and vocalist Jaap Blonk will all perform tonight; lesser known is Milwaukee veteran instrument maker Hal Rammel, whose best-recognized creation, the amplified palette—a painter’s palette fitted with a contact mike and a series of beautifully arranged wooden and metal rods played with mallets, bows, and other objects—recently turned 25. As showcased in the dazzling new The Amplified Palette: A History in Pictures (Penumbra), Rammel has taken artistic liberties over the years with the shape and design of the instrument’s foundation. That album includes unreleased solo improvisations—disc one features material from the late 90s, while the second disc was cut over the last few years—along with a series of photos of his beautiful instruments, which double as exquisite sculptural objects. But Rammel has always been interested in functionality first, and the otherworldly sounds his creations conjure. Guitarist, composer, and Rammel collaborator Chris Burns writes in an essay, “Onomatopoeia can’t do the palettes justice: grunting, crying, keening, chiming, pealing, clanging, sawing, sizzling and scraping barely begin to suggest the range of timbres, or to express their depth and intricacy.” Tonight Rammel will perform solo, in a duo with Block, and in a trio with Blonk and Vandermark.
— Peter Margasak

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