Paul Lytton | Experimental Sound Studio | Experimental | Chicago Reader
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Paul Lytton

Paul Lytton

Joaquim Mendes

When: Mon., June 1, 7:30 p.m. 2015
Price: $10
British percussionist Paul Lytton secured his place in the firmament of free improvisation more than 40 years ago, and he remains one of the most original and probing players ever to abandon the traditional rhythmic role of the drums in favor of texture and abstraction. By extending his kit with a phalanx of found objects, ad hoc devices, and metal percussion from around the world as well as with jury-rigged electronics, he creates tangled, engrossing fields of sound—frictive, harsh, sibilant, resonant—that let him go head-to-head with saxophonists, pianists, and the like rather than simply serving as a timekeeper or accompanist. That said, Lytton has always been skilled at driving music forward, even if his propulsion is rarely straight-ahead. Just as his playing stays in constant motion, Lytton continues to grow and try new things—and he’s provided listeners with an excellent chance to dig into his current practice on the new ?! (released by Pleasure of the Text, the label of trumpeter Nate Wooley), his first solo album since 1979’s The Inclined Stick. The playful curiosity of the record’s eight pieces (some include samples of the screams of domestic cats) extends to its strident, mind-warping layers of multi­directional movement. Lytton seems to be able to impart each thread of sound—whether scraping, gurgling, thwacking, pinging, or something harder to put into words—with its own distinct tempo or pulse. He fuels the boundless energy in his playing with equal parts open-hearted wonder and ruthless know-how. This rare solo performance kicks off a new weekly series at Experimental Sound Studio called Option, organized by reedist Ken Vandermark, drummer Tim Daisy, and guitarist Andrew Clinkman; after Lytton plays, he’ll sit down for a conversation with Vandermark. —Peter Margasak


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