Demdike Stare, Duane Pitre, Stave, DJ Karl Meier | Empty Bottle | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Demdike Stare, Duane Pitre, Stave, DJ Karl Meier Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Recommended Image

When: Sat., Aug. 10, 9 p.m. 2013

As Demdike Stare, DJ and producer Miles Whittaker and vinyl archaeologist Sean Canty haven’t abandoned their creepy, layered sound and atmosphere of unseen terror—so don’t let them fool you with their recent Testpressing series. Yes, the three records’ sleeves are missing the usual decadent occult imagery (they have text-only jackets, like they were never supposed to make it out of the plant), and the duo have whittled down their usually elaborate approach (“Grows Without Bound” is mostly one deliberate buildup of reverberating static). But as you’d expect if you know Demdike Stare at all, there’s always subtle bubbling beneath the surface. The B side of that same record, “Primitive Equations,” prominently features a steady, simplistic dance beat—there don’t seem to be any ominous deep-cut vinyl samples to be found. But listen into the track, so that the beat moves from the foreground to the background, and faint, haunting whispers and a cricketlike high-pitched buzz cut through. And onstage—at least when I saw them last year during the Adventures in Modern Music festival—the duo echo the visuals that they’ve scattered and collaged all over their discography with a selection of obscure horror footage projected behind them. —Kevin Warwick

About a decade ago, when Duane Pitre became absorbed in non-Western musical traditions, particularly those with nontempered scales, he conducted a great deal of solitary informal research into the harmonies that are largely responsible for the captivating drones and rich overtones of music from India, the Middle East, and elsewhere. He taught himself to use just intonation, an ancient tuning system that can create enveloping harmonies because its intervals are determined by varying ratios of simple whole numbers (in familiar Western tempered intonation, all intervals are the same size). Last year Pitre released Feel Free (Important), a series of four gorgeous, mesmerizing pieces played live by a string ensemble that he gave significant interpretive leeway; for his brand-new follow-up, Bridges (Important), he created a more controlled environment and involved fewer outsiders. He played several stringed instruments (the Turkish cumbus, a ukulele-violin hybrid called a ukelin, and mandolin) and manipulated everything via computer, assisted only by soprano saxophonist Bhob Rainey (based in New Orleans, like Pitre) and London cellist Oliver Barrett (who recorded his contributions remotely). Pitre assembled their parts after the fact using software that allows him to fluidly tweak their recorded performances in real time, which is what he’ll be doing (accompanied by video projections) for this solo performance. As he explained in a recent interview, the software “allows me to ‘talk’ to the ‘performers’ in the system, and conduct them essentially, as I have with actual human ensembles.” The two extended works on Bridges—variations of the same piece—depart from the sparkling arpeggios and tangles of single-string patterns on Feel Free, instead alternating between richly harmonic drones and sparse passages where extended silences allow plucked strings to ring out and decay with serene beauty. Pitre’s stately music demonstrates the splendor of just intonation as directly and accessibly as anything from the past few decades. —Peter Margasak Demdike Stare headlines; Duane Pitre, Stave, and Karl Meier (DJ set) open.

Price: $12