Larval, Mark Cunningham's Convolution | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Larval, Mark Cunningham's Convolution 

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LARVAL, MARK CUNNINGHAM'S CONVOLUTION

As a founding member of the no-wave band Mars--the most uncompromising and noisiest of the four groups included on the legendary Brian Eno-produced compilation No New York--Mark Cunningham knows better than most how to create tension in music. But although he supplied the numbingly forceful bass lines in Mars, for most of the last two decades he's used the trumpet to get under people's skin. In the 80s his brassy lines throbbed over martial rhythms in the band Don King--whose scant works were collected a few years ago as One Two Punch by the local Atavistic label. In 1991 he moved to Barcelona, where he kicked off his latest project, a duo with guitarist and occasional singer Silvia Mestres called Convolution; on the five-song demo I've heard, Cunningham alternately delivers puckered smears, sour bleats, and clarion melodies over Mestres's atmospheric contributions and some drum-machine rhythms. Also on this bill, headlined by the local band Lozenge, is Larval, the loud art-rock outfit led by Detroit composer and guitarist Bill Brovold. What distinguishes Larval from your average bombastic prog-rock band is that nobody's trying to persuade anybody that this is highbrow stuff: the quasi-classical passages, played on piano, violin, cello, and tenor sax collide with bracing rock rhythms in noisy, raw, occasionally spontaneous-feeling waves. In the best moments on the group's most recent album, Predator or Prey (Knitting Factory), the music writhes between hard-rock riffing and raggedy grooves, while the acoustic instruments struggle to fit into the onslaught; the layers of counterpoint on a piece like "The Crippled Dance" make for constant surprises. Unfortunately too many of the compositions, mostly written by Brovold and guitarist Toby Summerfield, plod along with obvious purpose. Sunday, July 22, 7 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. Larval also performs at 1 PM at Jazz Record Mart, 444 N. Wabash; 312-222-1467.

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