Stilluppsteypa | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


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The title of the terrific new compilation (Microscopic Sound), on Caipirinha, is an apt description of the MO of an increasing number of electronic-music artists. In work being done everywhere from Japan (Ryoji Ikeda) to Finland (Pan Sonic), morsels of music, single tones or clicks, are stretched, chopped, distorted, blurred, and looped into a full meal. The trio Stilluppsteypa, from Iceland by way of the Netherlands, has evolved (devolved?) in this direction over the past seven years. Its early stuff--some of it produced by Andrew McKenzie of the Hafler Trio, which was originally on this bill as well--was an abrasive, elusive swoosh of noisy, rock-tinged experimentalism, but it sounds positively quaint now. The recent Reduce by Reducing (Fire Inc./Some) is a full-on dose of maximal minimalism: On "The Unhappy Inventor" droning industrial hums flutter and build in density and intensity and then--at the moment where one would expect some cataclysmic explosion--the piece implodes instead, leaving only a brief, hazy electronic melody. "Please Explain!" takes a similar hum and tweaks it into a rigorous workout of irregular beats, while the title track uses gunshotlike explosions to frame floor-rumbling bass tones and shifting streams of harsh electronic textures. It may sound musical at times, but sound, not music in the conventional sense, is really the point. This is Stilluppsteypa's Chicago debut. Tuesday, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. PETER MARGASAK


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