Philip Samartzis | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Philip Samartzis 

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Philip Samartzis, a sound artist and composer from Melbourne, Australia, practices a combination of environmental recording and musique concrete, merging natural and synthetic sounds in his evocative compositions. Most of his work is built on field recordings he's made around the world--beside a Norwegian stream, on a Japanese subway, in a Hong Kong bird market--but he also judiciously includes thunderous pipe organ, oblique piano plinks, and electronic clatter like high-frequency tones and static bursts. Arranging and manipulating these sounds in a variety of computer programs, he repeats or disfigures some beyond recognition while presenting others untouched. The gurgling water in his Windmills Bordered by Nothingness (Dorobo Limited Editions, 1999), for instance, isn't just a noise to be twisted into something it's not; it's allowed to simply be gurgling water. His compositions aren't linear, but they're not haphazard either; Windmills creates the effect of surveying a nature scene from different angles in shifting atmospheric conditions, and most episodes are framed by what sound like whip cracks and struck bells. In performance Samartzis makes real-time alterations to prepared mixes of these elements. Wednesday, January 30, 8 PM, Deadtech, 3321 W. Fullerton; 773-395-2844.

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