Pelt | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Pelt 

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A few years ago, in the course of a Web search on avant-garde violinist Tony Conrad, I came across a hilarious work of fiction describing two mountain geezers discussing a Conrad appearance at an old-time fiddlers' convention (and approving of it, though amused). The piece had apparently run in the local newspaper in Wytheville, Virginia, which I remember mostly as the nearest Greyhound stop to my parents' house in the sticks. Who in hell could have written this? Later I learned that it was Mike Gangloff of Pelt, who'd recently moved to nearby Max Meadows. And when I heard Pelt live, it all made sense: they were a highlight of the 2000 Transmissions Festival in Chapel Hill, even in a lineup that included the heralded likes of John Fahey, Pita, and Kevin Drumm. With carpets on the floor and incense in the corners, Pelt drew listeners into a sexy and comforting den, conjuring lush and generous dronescapes where Tibetan monks conversed magically with hillbilly sages via prayer bowls and banjos--not such a strange idea when you consider that both cultures have had to adapt spiritually to the breathtaking and human-dwarfing scale of mountains. The trio's recent double CD, Ayahuasca (VHF), named for a psychotropic herb and dedicated to Fahey, is a study in tasteful density: each of the long pieces pursues every tone to its logical conclusion, whether that be electrified raga, stark modern minimalism, or raptly chaneled folkways. This is music I've been waiting my whole life to hear, and I don't think I'm the only one: these are fan-organized shows. At the Hideout, Charalambides and Spires That in the Sunset Rise share the bill; Plastic Crimewave, aka Galactic Zoo Dossier publisher Steve Krakow, will DJ afterward. Pelt plan an all acoustic set, and Kentucky experimental guitarist Keenan Lawler will join them on cello. Earlier the same day Pelt and Charalambides will perform for free at Reckless Records in Wicker Park. Sunday night at Danny's, Pelt's Jack Rose will play a solo set, as will Lawler; Scorces, featuring a member of Charalambides, and Plastic Crimewave & the Fake also perform. Saturday, August 17, 4:30 PM, Reckless Records, 1532 N. Milwaukee; 773-235-3727. Saturday, August 17, 9:30 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia; 773-227-4433. Sunday, August 18, 10 PM, Danny's, 1951 W. Dickens; 773-489-6457.

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