Jozef Van Wissem, David Daniell | Heaven Gallery | Rock, Pop, Etc, Experimental | Chicago Reader

Jozef Van Wissem, David Daniell Recommended All Ages Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Sat., May 16, 10 p.m. 2009

On his MySpace page, Dutch lutenist Jozef Van Wissem claims to be "liberating the lute," and the instrument—something like a fat-necked, teardrop­-shaped guitar with paired strings and a rounded back—could use the help. Though it was popular in Europe during Medieval and Renaissance times, it fell out of fashion more than 200 years ago and is now most often heard in early-music ensembles. To accomplish this liberation, Van Wissem has dueted with radical guitarists like former Captain Beefheart sideman Gary Lucas and blues minimalist Tetuzi Akiyama, accompanied himself with atmospheric recordings made in airports and train stations, and enlisted electronic composer Maurizio Bianchi to process performances of Renaissance melodies into vast industrial drones. But what really makes Van Wissem's art contemporary is his conceptual approach: William S. Burroughs inspired the cut-up techniques he uses to juxtapose dissimilar themes within a single piece, and psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan's theories about the role of mirroring in the development of the self inform Van Wissem's prodigious use of compositional palindromes. The result is music that quietly confounds the instrument's aura of antiquity.

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