International Contemporary Ensemble, Nosaj Thing | Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park | Classical | Chicago Reader
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International Contemporary Ensemble, Nosaj Thing 

When: Thu., July 4, 6:30 p.m. 2013
I can enjoy Independence Day pyrotechnics as much as the next person, but for my money the best way to celebrate on this Fourth of July is by listening to the music of Edgard Varese—though he was French, he spent most of his career in the U.S., and his compositions are just as explosive and spectacular as any fireworks show. Three years ago the International Contemporary Ensemble participated in a magnificent presentation of his complete works at the Lincoln Center in New York, and this evening they perform three of the most iconic (collaborating with members of Chicago’s Third Coast Percussion and Eighth Blackbird) in a concert that will take full advantage of Pritzker Pavilion’s sound and light capabilities. Sound engineer Ryan Ingebritsen will render Poeme Electronique (1958), a 360-degree montage of electronic sounds, piano, and percussion composed for the Philips Pavilion at the Brussels World’s Fair. ICE leader Claire Chase will perform Density 21.5, a solo flute piece influential for its use of extended techniques (key clicking, percussive flurries of notes during quiet passages), its extreme upper-register tones, and its constant outpouring of melodic permutations of its opening phrase. The largest group of the evening will play Varese’s most famous work, the five-minute percussion symphony Ionisation, an exhilarating and otherworldly flurry of noise—sirens, drums, maracas, castanets, guiros—in which rhythmic cells expand and contract to mimic the chemical process that gives the piece its name. Rounding out the program are two similar percussion works by Iannis Xenakis, Rebonds A and Rebonds B, and the Karlheinz Stockhausen five-trumpet piece Thursday, Farewell, which generates rich harmonies with a series of mournful long tones—Gareth Flowers will play one part live, blending with four parts he’s prerecorded. —Peter Margasak

Jason Chung (aka Nosaj Thing) has been putting out records since the mid-aughts, making him an elder statesman of the burgeoning Los Angeles beats scene that was starting to emerge as a unified entity around the time he got started. By the scene’s standards he’s on the poppier side of things, as opposed to the more skittery, free-jazzy side—his music sticks close enough to a steady beat that it can easily support a vocalist. “Paranoia,” the recent single he recorded with Chicago up-and-comer Chance the Rapper, sounds like a Pharcyde cassette tape that got melted on the dashboard of a car, then fed into a malfunctioning piece of pirated audio software. On his latest LP, Home (Innovative Leisure), Chung explores what seems to be an interest in classic house and glitchy avant-techno, as well as in the musicians who’ve successfully crossbred them with pop. —Miles Raymer Nosaj Thing opens.



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