Forced Collapse, Brett Nauke, Green Pasture Happiness | Enemy | Experimental | Chicago Reader

Forced Collapse, Brett Nauke, Green Pasture Happiness Recommended All Ages Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Fri., March 11, 9 p.m. 2011

It's not unusual for a classically trained musician to pursue radical sounds, despite the reputation conservatories have for squelching them, and Michigan-born guitarist Christopher Riggs, who went to Oberlin as an undergrad, now studies with iconic iconoclasts Anthony Braxton and Alvin Lucier at Wesleyan. In light of that, you'd hardly expect him to be hidebound and conventional, but he takes "radical" and runs off a cliff with it. On just about every recording of him that I've heard—solo releases; a blistering trio called Trauma, where he plays with drummer Ben Hall and trumpeter Nate Wooley; the 2010 album Glass Key (You Are Your Only Machine), with Hall and jazz guitarist Joe Morris—he demolishes every conventional notion of what a guitar can sound like. His output on what he calls "FX pedal-less electric guitar" is by and large unapologetically ugly: grimy splotches, spastic rattles, tortured scrapes that sound like scrap metal dragged down an alley or fed into a recycling shredder. Forced Collapse is his duo with trumpeter Liz Allbee, a Bay Area fixture now in Berlin. She's got serious improvised-music bona fides—she played with Kihnoua, a project led by ROVA saxophonist Larry Ochs, on last year's Unauthorized Caprices (Not Two)—and her solo album Theseus Vs. (Resipiscent) is a collection of deliciously quirky songlike vignettes. Allbee's vocabulary of extended techniques has little to do with the unpitched breaths and sibilant sounds that seem to be de rigueur, though: her style is less gestural and more noisy and dirty, with a frantic, piercing, aggression. Forced Collapse's 2010 LP Consider the Weather a Failure (the sole vinyl release on Riggs's defunct cassette label, Holy Cheever Church) is a rising-and-falling rumble of writhing low-end scuzz, malevolently vocalic horn sputters, tart puckers, squealing bowed strings, and more—many sounds are impossible to identify, and the music is equally impossible to categorize. It's superficially repulsive but deeply thoughtful, reflecting the players' empathetic relationship—they create startling juxtapositions of tone color and evolve their tug-of-war with a nonchalant logic that keeps it gripping on listen after listen. —Peter Margasak

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