Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Francisco Lopez, Vertonen

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At a Chicago concert a few years back, Spanish sound artist FRANCISCO LOPEZ hung black curtains around his gear, turned off all the room lights, and distributed blindfolds to the audience--he treats visual stimulation of any kind as a distraction from the immersive experience of sound. His recordings, which are rarely named and usually minimally packaged--often without titles, credits, or album art of any kind--leap unpredictably from near silence to tympanum-scouring static. Lopez electronically magnifies, minimizes, or distorts a wide variety of audio sources--field recordings of rain forests and cityscapes, the noises of machinery, heavy-metal records--for maximum impact. Given the extreme dynamic range of his music and his interest in creating a controlled listening environment, it's hardly surprising that he prefers digital media and hates rock clubs--but he's breaking both his own rules here, playing a release party at the Bottle for his split LP with Michael Gendreau, who shares the bill. The album's coming out on the local C.I.P. label, run by Blake Edwards of opening act Vertonen; Lopez's side, "Untitled #185," is built from meticulously arranged layers of vinyl surface noise. --Bill Meyer

It's wonderful to gaze out at the newest South Loop condo-strosities and imagine that a few nanocents of the tax revenue generated by each unit went toward Stations, the brand-new CD by VERTONEN (aka local sound menace Blake Edwards). It's his third release on his own C.I.P. label to benefit from one of Chicago's Community Arts Assistance Program grants, and he's used the money to help express what I suppose is the city's revulsion toward itself--the noise of a rusty iron wad hitting a giant spittoon while cub reporters and idealistic young officeholders drown within. --J. Niimi

Vertonen opens; Michael Gendreau and Francisco Lopez will each perform solo, then play a joint set. Thu 7/13, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $25 (includes Stations and a signed copy of the Lopez/Gendreau LP) or $15.

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