John Wiese | Graham Foundation | Experimental | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Sat., May 12, 8 p.m. 2012
Price: Reservations are required, and can be made at
Before I listened carefully, I figured LA's John Wiese was just a noise guy—and much of his huge discography is in fact excruciatingly loud and violent. But his output is much more varied than that, and he's proved it in collaborations with artists as diverse as Sunn 0))), Evan Parker, and C. Spencer Yeh, as well as in his own project Sissy Spacek (which he calls grindcore, though it's not). Perhaps the most consistent common thread throughout his work is an obsession with filmic cuts—in fact, Wiese once said if he'd gotten started 20 years earlier, he would've ended up making tape music. What really opened my mind to the breadth of Wiese's aesthetic was his performance at the MCA in fall 2010, which was part of the Wire's Adventures in Modern Music festival: he created a rich, multidimensional chunk of music concrete, using his laptop to splice together a dizzying flood of room-filling (but not especially loud) sounds. His fantastic new album, Seven of Wands (Pan), which collects seven pieces made between 2004 and 2010, takes a similar approach; some of the tracks are quiet but unsettling, while others explore a broader dynamic range, layering and cross-cutting eerie electronic tones, contact-miked friction, and reverberant crashes and rumbles (the two longest cuts also use percussion and voice provided by members of the rock band Liars). Most of the pieces sound as though they're about to explode, but they never do—which creates a powerful tension that heightens your awareness of the profusion of detail in Wiese's airlessly dense atmospheres. He doesn't use loops and there's no regular pulse, but as his tiny gestures flow rapidly past, never repeating themselves, you feel like you can absorb every bit of information. —Peter Margasak



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