Thomas Lehn & Marcus Schmickler | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Thomas Lehn & Marcus Schmickler 

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These two electronic improvisers, both based in Cologne, have been working together off and on since the late 90s, finding fascinating ways to communicate despite their different idioms. Thomas Lehn came to electroacoustic improv as a pianist with a background in classical music and avant-jazz and now applies his lightning-quick reflexes to an unwieldy, unpredictable old analog synth swarming with patch cords, relying on intuition and chance as much as on his knowledge of the instrument. A remarkably responsive improvising partner, he continues to work with a wide range of players who have roots in creative music, including trumpeter Axel Dorner, reedist John Butcher, and his bandmates in the powerfully chaotic Konk Pack, multi-instrumentalist Tim Hodgkinson and drummer Roger Turner. Marcus Schmickler, on the other hand, has no improv background to speak of and works entirely digitally; he's maintained parallel interests in experimental electronic music and techno, releasing arty dance albums as Pluramon alongside uncategorizable discs like 2002's brilliant Param (A-Musik), where he assembled computer compositions by dilating, processing, layering, and rearranging recordings of some of Germany's finest improvisers. Lehn and Schmickler play together in a laptop orchestra called MIMEO and recently joined Keith Rowe and Toshimaru Nakamura for a session of hyperminimalist hiss-and-sputter released on the ErstLive label, but so far they've only made one record as a duo, 2001's Bart (Erstwhile)--a slashing set that contrasts Lehn's aggressive, coloristic squiggles with Schmickler's more controlled drones, hums, and glitches. Sat 9/10, 9 PM, 6Odum, 2116 W. Chicago, 773-227-3617, $12. All ages.

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