Mario Diaz de Leon | Classical | Chicago Reader

Mario Diaz de Leon Soundboard Recommended Critics' Picks

When: Fri., Nov. 19, 9:30 p.m. 2010

Electronics have been part of classical music since at least the 1930s, the conservative programming of most mainstream presenters notwithstanding, but aside from Iannis Xenakis I can't think of a composer who's pushed harsh noise like young New Yorker Mario Diaz de Leon (he also plays in an experimental metal band called Mirrorgate). On last year's fantastic Enter Houses Of (Tzadik) he juxtaposes relatively conventional lines played by acoustic instruments—some of which are quite lovely—with abstract electronic sounds that can be confrontational, even brutal. On "Mansion" the gracefully twining alto flutes of Claire Chase and Eric Lamb are surrounded by sputtering low-frequency digital pulses, haunting waves of ambience, lacerating bursts of synthetic shrieking, and explosive drumming by Nathan Davis that alternates between ceremonial gravitas and psych-rock fury. On "The Flesh Needs Fire," Chase and clarinetist Joshua Rubin engage in swooping, acrobatic interplay while electronic noise builds in force, density, and nastiness. Diaz de Leon's writing for acoustic instruments tempers dissonance with flashes of serenity, and his rhythmic sensibility likewise balances frenetic intensity with near stillness. The electronic element of his music is much more than merely decorative—it's fully integrated, and alternately jostles, caresses, and dominates the other voices. The five pieces on tonight's program—the first local survey of Diaz de Leon's work—include "Mansion" and "The Flesh Needs Fire" as well as two world premieres. Diaz de Leon will play laptop, joined by Chase, Lamb, Davis, and Rubin, all of whom are members of the International Contemporary Ensemble. On Thursday, November 18, at 7 PM, Diaz de Leon will give a talk and present short demonstrations of his music at Andrew Rafacz Gallery, 835 W. Washington. —Peter Margasak

Price: $15

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