David Stackenas | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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David Stackenas


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On his early visits to Chicago, Swedish acoustic guitarist David Stackenas was equally persuasive strumming suave Fred Katz tunes with Fred Lonberg-Holm and plucking spidery Derek Bailey-style interval leaps with the Pipeline ensemble. But he's really blown me away with the range of ideas and techniques on the albums he's released in the past couple years. On Blues (Atavistic), an explosive and intimate duo with saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, and Gubbrora (Psi), a stormy but marvelously nuanced concert recording with pianist Sten Sandell and the Parker-Guy-Lytton trio, Stackenas plays everything from atomized fingerpicked splatter to resonant hums and glassy swells generated with EBows and small electric fans. His latest solo disc, Bow (Kning), is even more of a departure. It's not an improv album at all but a recording of an installation he developed for Stockholm's Galleri ETC--he arranged five acoustic guitars on the floor, suspended fans against their strings, and mostly just let everything run. The music is far from static or simple, instead yielding wave upon gorgeous wave of shimmering overtones and gamelan-like percussive patterns. Stackenas is in town again--his first visit in nearly three years--to play with Ken Vandermark's Territory Band next week in Millennium Park, and tonight he'll duet with saxophonist Dave Rempis, opening for the splendid transatlantic quintet of Fredrik Ljungkvist, Axel Dorner, Jim Baker, Josh Abrams, and Paul Lytton. Thu 8/17, 10 PM, Elastic, 2830 N. Milwaukee, 773-772-3616, $8 suggested donation. All ages.

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