When: Thu., May 16, 9 p.m. 2013
Now that saxophonist Colin Stetson has released New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light (Constellation), the third and final installment of his solo trilogy, you might be familiar with his ingenuity and imagination—but that doesn’t make them any less powerful. Born in Ann Arbor and based in Montreal, Stetson has developed a singular practice to create his unique art-pop, which is alternately visceral and ethereal and sometimes both at once. He enlists a mastery of extended techniques associated with free improvisation—most importantly circular breathing and multiphonics—and a phalanx of microphones deployed in and around his horns and on his throat, working live without loops or overdubs (though sound artist Ben Frost mixed the record, as he did the previous one, for maximum thrust). The clacking of keys and the whomping of pads against the horn provide extra layers of rhythm, interlacing with the pulsing arpeggios; Stetson’s greedy inhalations add atmospheric hisses; and shards of melody hummed through the horn offer accessible prettiness, floating over striated, hypnotic lines that suggest the chugging minimalism of Philip Glass. Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon sings on a handful of tracks (he’s among the artists for whom Stetson has worked, as are the Arcade Fire and Laurie Anderson), stacking ebullient harmonies on “And in Truth” and affecting a death-metal Cookie Monster growl on the furious “Brute,” which would frankly sound more sinister without it. In fact, Stetson never needs the guest singers he employs—and he’ll do just fine without them tonight. —Peter Margasak Justin Walter opens.