Jazzkamer | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Maybe it's something in the water, but lately the Scandinavian experimental-music community has seen an increase in the same sort of cross-stylistic interaction--jazz improvisers working with laptop jockeys working with noise artists--that put its Chicago counterpart back on the map in the 1990s. Not surprisingly, there's a connection. Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson has been visiting Chicago regularly since the mid-90s, and on his heels have come other broad-minded Scandinavian players, including guitarist David Stackenas, drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, and reedist Fredrik Ljungkvist; in 2000 eight Swedes and eight Chicagoans participated in an ambitious musical exchange project called Pipeline, collaborating for concerts both here and in Sweden. Currently Oslo hosts three of Scandinavia's most exciting record labels: Sofa, which focuses on free improv; Smalltown Supersound, which handles mostly wiggy electronics; and Rune Grammofon, which experiments with slippery hybrids between improv, electronic music, and folk. Earlier this month Smalltown's Martin Horntveth and Kim Hiorthoy made their Chicago debuts, and this week Jazzkammer--the duo of noise merchant and electronicist Lasse Marhaug and guitarist John Hegre--will make their stateside debut with two performances at 6Odum (the only gigs planned for their entire trip). On their 2000 debut album, Timex (Rune Grammofon), Jazzkammer celebrate tiny sounds: field recordings made around Norway, alternately ominous and soothing, provide a thick ambient base for staticky, highly kinetic scratches and pops. Marhaug and Hegre manipulate, loop, and reshape things like LP surface noise, electronic interference, and contact distortion into dazzling, highly tactile abstractions that can patter with pin-drop delicacy or clobber like a tidal wave (a reminder that Jazzkammer has collaborated with Japanese noise giant Merzbow). It's unapologetically experimental, but the duo's infatuation with sound is infectious. On Friday Jazzkammer will premiere "Timex Seconds," a three-part work that combines modified acoustic guitar and Nintendo Game Boy with additional field recordings, some made above the arctic circle. And on Saturday they'll collaborate with local laptop trio TV Pow, who contributed to Jazzkammer's 2001 remix CD, Rolex (Smalltown Supersound)--a far-flung collection that also includes a goofy distorto-disco turn by Thurston Moore, treacherous noise from Zbigniew Karkowski, and dark ambience by Francisco Lopez. Friday and Saturday, March 29 and 30, 10 PM, 6Odum, 2116 W. Chicago; 312-666-0795 or 773-227-3617.

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