Hal Rammel | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Instrument inventor and sound sculptor Hal Rammel thrives in a world of elusive, ephemeral sonic scapes--a world with no musical boundaries. Sans structure, Rammel glides and twirls, reveling in odd textures and serendipitous phrases. This gig celebrates the release of the CD Elsewheres (Penumbra), a thrilling, unusual, and utterly fresh-sounding collection of works performed on Rammel's sound palette, an instrument of his own design. A paint palette fitted with wooden dowels of different lengths and thicknesses, it's either plucked or bowed. The resulting amplified signal is electronically processed with a pair of digital delay boxes whose output loops back and forth, colliding and mixing with new sounds so that Rammel's improvisations can wander out past his reach. It's hard to describe the sounds he generates; they can be sublimely liquid, sharply brittle, psychedelically swirled, warmly resonant, or gloomily dark. He refuses to exploit the sonic novelty of such an unfamiliar instrument; his pieces aren't merely demonstrations of different tacks, but cogent, fully developed works. The second portion of the program will feature improvised violin duets from Terri Kapsalis and the Vandermark Quartet's Dan Scanlan, "sound text" trios performed by Rammel, Kapsalis, and John Corbett, and quartet improvisations by all the participants. Friday, 10 PM, Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe, 2827 N. Lincoln; 327-6666.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Debra E. Levie.

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