Jon Mueller, Bhob Rainey, Jim Schoenecker | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Jon Mueller, Bhob Rainey, Jim Schoenecker 

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The liner notes to Papercuts (Crouton), a new recording by Milwaukee's Jon Mueller and Switzerland-based American Jason Khan, both percussionists, say the music was "produced with various grades of handmade and commercial paper." There are no beats or fixed rhythms, and four successive mixes have rendered the original sounds--those of crumpling, folding, fluttering, and otherwise noisy pieces of paper--into an abstract soundscape of quietly sputtering, hissing sibilance. Mueller once played drums in the rock band Pele, which dabbled in improvisation toward the end of its career, and on his own he's adopted an approach favored by an increasing number of improvisers around the world: putting aside concerns of melody, rhythm, and conventional give-and-take to create fields of pure sound that emphasize texture and color. The approach is also manifested on a new untitled recording (also on Crouton) by a trio--Mueller, saxophonist Bhob Rainey, and synthesizer player Jim Schoenecker--that performs here this week. While some of the sustained gurgles and high-frequency notes on the CD are identifiably electronic, most of the time it's impossible to figure out who's doing what--not that that's the point--especially when lengthy, earsplitting squeals by all three musicians mesh. Mueller's scraped and bowed percussive devices and Rainey's sharp harmonic manipulations dissolve nicely into a slowly evolving murmur. It's heady, austere stuff, but the kick of seeing these guys find unconventional ways to make new sounds is worth a little mental effort. The trio of Fred Lonberg-Holm, Lou Mallozzi, and Dutch bass saxophonist Klaas Heckman also performs. Donation requested. Thursday, August 12, 9:30 PM, 3030, 3030 W. Cortland; 773-862-3616.

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