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Jerome Noetinger & Lionel Marchetti

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Over the last decade or so the computer has become the default instrument in experimental music. But judging from the proliferation of interchangeable laptop jockeys, this development has weakened the field far more than it's strengthened it. French sound artists Jerome Noetinger and Lionel Marchetti, however, have by and large eschewed digital technology--for them innovation means more than merely keeping up on the latest software. They've had to learn how to generate new sounds and approaches with microphones, tape machines, speakers, and various homemade electronic devices (although in interviews they've dismissed such technical information as irrelevant to the appreciation of their work). Noetinger and Marchetti, who've worked as a duo since 1993, are both well-known composers of musique concrete--a genre launched in the late 40s by their countryman Pierre Schaeffer, who began by arranging musical sounds and field recordings on tape. Noetinger also runs the Metamkine label, which over the past decade has released work by old masters of musique concrete like Luc Ferrari as well as important new voices like Bernhard Gunter and Ralf Wehowsky. And their own discs for the imprint have been fascinating: Noetinger's Gloire a... is a sort of multilingual sound essay about the gulf war, and Marchetti's La grande vallee occupies a decontextualized sonic gray area, placing soothing environmental sounds alongside ominous industrial hums. In the past few years they've increasingly worked in improvisational settings: among their recent collaborators are tabletop guitarist Keith Rowe, pianist Sophie Agnel, violinist Kaffe Matthews, trumpeter Axel Dorner, and percussionist Le Quan Ninh. For last year's Double_Wash (Grob) they teamed up with the great Swiss electronics duo Voice Crack, creating gorgeously amorphous pieces out of liquid whirs and whooshes and vaporlike sprays and sizzles. More relevant to this performance, the duo's U.S. debut, is their 2001 entry in Staalplaat's "Mort aux Vaches" series, a live radio set that mixes musique concrete and electronic improv. The album is detail heavy and packed with novel sounds and colors; chirping birds and harder-to-identify outdoor recordings intermingle with gentle hums and sometimes squelching, sometimes flickering electronics. It's hard to guess exactly how this music is made just from listening to a CD, but that only makes it more enticing. Saturday, June 15, 10 PM, 6Odum, 2116 W. Chicago; 312-666-0795 or 773-227-3617.

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