Keith Rowe with Axel Dorner and Franz Hautzinger | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Keith Rowe with Axel Dorner and Franz Hautzinger 

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Nearly 40 years ago, as a founding member of the British improvising collective AMM, Keith Rowe transformed the guitar by laying it flat on a table and treating it like an abstract sound generator, manipulating the strings with various objects and using the pickups to amplify all kinds of percussive gestures. Many others have since followed suit, and in the last decade he's become a father figure to an international clique of improvisers more interested in exploring pure sound than in the usual give-and-take musical relationships. On the recent A View From the Window (Erstwhile) Rowe is joined by trumpeters Axel Dorner and Franz Hautzinger (of Germany and Austria, respectively), who don't issue a single trumpetlike sound in the course of the 57-minute recording. Both began as conventional jazz players, then took similar detours into exploring the manipulation of unpitched airstreams that hiss, sputter, and pop (though Dorner continues to play in a traditional mode as well, and has exquisite technique). On A View From the Window Rowe's metallic plinks are embedded in a flow of murmured sibilance, punctured here and there by bursts of shortwave radio noise that seem to leave behind divots of silence as your ears recoil and then readjust. It's unabashedly minimalist, but if you can tune in to the microscopic details you'll find a subtle reverie of shifting colors and textures. This set opens the first night of the second annual Adventures in Modern Music festival, copresented by British music magazine the Wire and the Empty Bottle. Boom Bip headlines and Oxbow plays second. Wednesday 22, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $15. See also Sunday.


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