Gert-Jan Prins & Bas van Koolwijk | Graham Foundation | Experimental | Chicago Reader

Gert-Jan Prins & Bas van Koolwijk Free All Ages Soundboard Recommended Critics' Picks

When: Sat., Nov. 6, 8 p.m. 2010

As a kid Dutch sound artist Gert-Jan Prins built radio transmitters and receivers from scratch, a hobby that still informs his work—though he was first active as a free-jazz percussionist, for more than two decades he's been creating abstract noise with homemade gear that incorporates radio technology. Though his palette is fairly narrow—thumps, hisses, hums, clicks, squeals—his improvisations are both nuanced and visceral and develop according to a keen compositional logic. He's collaborated with iconoclasts in electronic music (Pita, Fennesz, Marcus Schmickler) and free improv (Anne La Berge, Peter van Bergen, Cor Fuhler), and the new RI 1.5442 (Cavity) is a duet with Swiss guitarist and electronicist Tomas Korber. He doesn't stray from his usual simmering crackles, gut-shaking rumbles, pulsing interference patterns, and lacerating static, and Korber's sounds—rarely even remotely guitarlike—blend right in. But the dazzling focus with which they shape these minimal materials turns the album's 74 minutes into an engrossing journey across ever-shifting topography. Lately Prins has been working with Dutch video artist Bas van Koolwijk, and tonight's performance will employ a device they designed in 2006 called the Synchronator, which translates audio signals into abstract video. They've made a DVD of Synchronator visuals produced by Prins's audio output, and two arresting clips are posted online—one consists of flickering bursts of black-and-white horizontal action, the other of scrolling, morphing spasms of repeated shapes that look like single-celled algae in red or green. Part of the fun is trying to deduce which elements in the sound are affecting the video, and in which ways. RSVP to —Peter Margasak


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