WHPK's Pictures and Sounds Gets Noisy | Bleader

WHPK's Pictures and Sounds Gets Noisy


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Ben Hall
  • Ben Hall
Every year University of Chicago radio station WHPK organizes a cool pairing of live music with film and video under the name Pictures and Sounds, and this year's installment, scheduled for 8 PM on Saturday, looks to be the best in a long while. Curated by WHPK program director Eric Hanss, the lineup places a greater emphasis than usual on experimental sounds and images.

Many of the musicians performing share a connection to the noise-driven faction of the midwest's thriving cassette underground, and the films and videos are both historic and contemporary. To my ears and eyes, two pairings are especially exciting. The first is Cleveland's Mist, the duo of Sam Goldberg (who runs the Pizza Night tape label) and John Eliot (who plays in superb experimental-drone outfit Emeralds), performing to films by great Canadian animator Norman McLaren. Last year the duo released a self-titled vinyl LP on Amethyst Sunset, but despite the unaccustomed format their music didn't change—it's still harrowing ambient synthesizer washes and drones, embroidered with pulsing electronic figures that might as well be swiped from early Tangerine Dream records.

The second promising pairing involves Trauma, a Detroit group that includes prolific noiseniks Chris Riggs and Ben Hall (Graveyards), and New York trumpeter Nate Wooley, who's just as thoroughly at home with postbop blowing as he is with intense, gestural free improvisation and noise; they'll accompany Bruce Nauman's Walking in an Exaggerated Manner Around the Perimeter of a Square, run at one-third its normal speed. I haven't heard Trauma and Wooley together yet, but I have had the pleasure of checking out the cassette release Violent Forms of Laughter Pt. 2 (Arbor), with Hall, Wooley, and Hans Buetow (also from Graveyards), and it's a mind-fucking tangle of spooky, ringing ambience, far-away banging, arco strings, and wind-tunnel howls, all of it meticulously controlled; the music just slathers on the dread without bringing the hammer down, letting it build and build with no real release.

Additionally Dog Lady (aka Ann Arbor violinist and spreader of chaos Mike Collino) will accompany video by Michigander Alivia Zivich, and Chicago's Brett Naucke (who runs the Catholic Tapes label) will play along to video by Chicagoan Nate Young (not the same Nate Young who started Wolf Eyes). Pictures and Sounds is at the U. of C.'s Film Studies Center (5811 S. Ellis) and admission is free.

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