Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Hans Grusel's Krankenkabinet



San Francisco experimental electronic composer Thomas Day has a master's from Mills College, has won recognition from Meet the Composer and the American Composers Forum, has written for the Berkeley Symphony, and is currently the sound director for Capacitor, an award-winning "group of interdisciplinary movement artists." But he's also collaborated with no-wave vet Arto Lindsay, the New York "illbient" DJ collective Soundlab, and Day-Glo noise folkies Caroliner--and for those times when he really wants to step out of character, he's created a German alter ego by the name of Hans Grusel. As Grusel he claims, among other things, that he formed an arts collective back at Berlin Polytechnic with Michael and Rudolf Schenker of the Scorpions, and that together they attempted to build a 50-foot guitar. In 2000, the story goes, he emigrated to San Francisco, where he hooked up with Caroliner and their ilk. "As Bowie found the drum and bass artist for inspiration in the 90s," he says, "I have found inspiration in these Americans with their cardboard and high speed electronics." It's all a steaming load of crap, of course; according to his straight bio Day graduated from college in Buffalo in 1990. But he takes the shtick so far, writing E-mails and posting on message boards in broken English with German sentence structures, that you sort of want to believe him. His self-released Das Boot, presented as a collection of Grusel's work up through 1982, looks and sounds like the product of an imaginative schizophrenic. Wrapped in a hand-painted collage that's probably the handiwork of Caroliner mainstay Grux, the CD-R loops alarm clock noises, skrinky guitar fumbling, oscillator wailing, wet farts, Happy Apple scrambles, and tons of analog beeps. Of course that's pretty much the recipe for avant-garde electronica nowadays, but the random-sounding lunacy eventually gives way to a masterminded hypnotic lull. Grusel's performance here is part of another installment of the Electronic Puppenhorten Festival, a semiregular event on the cardboard-and-electronics scene in San Fran; the last one in Chicago was in May. Also on the bill are Grux's band Rubber O Cement, Scummerai, Nautical Almanac, Panicsville, Metalux, and others. Friday, April 5, 10 PM, Office Space, 755 N. Ashland; 773-671-6085.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Gretel Grusel.

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