Daniel Menche, Olivia Block | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Daniel Menche, Olivia Block

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Prolific Oregon sound artist DANIEL MENCHE uses often indeterminate source material--sometimes little more than thick drones and rhythmic pulsing--in an ongoing quest to convey intense emotion. For some recent releases he's focused on percussion in his harrowing soundscapes; Concussions (Asphodel), for example, is two relentless hours of primal beats manipulated and layered into a jagged, disorienting architecture. The brand-new Creatures of Cadence (Crouton/Longbox) is more kaleidoscopic: electronically enhanced strings and drums throb, thrum, and glide, shifting in vividness and density. This performance is his Chicago debut.

On her last few recordings--particularly the forthcoming Heave To (Sedimental)--local composer OLIVIA BLOCK has arranged field recordings and live instrumentation into extraordinarily dynamic and coherent pieces in which each element seems to spring organically from the others. Sounds of wind, waves, and thunder seethe amid shrill electronic tones, deep-sea drums, scraped strings, and surging horns. What's most striking about Block's work is its exquisite flow--she's like a good cinematographer who happens to use sounds instead of images. Here she'll be working with prepared piano and contact mikes.

Block performs first, Menche second. a 9:30 PM, Elastic, 2830 N. Milwaukee, 773-772-3616, $10 suggested donation. A

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