Jozef Van Wissem’s antique lute repertoire has never been more timely | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Jozef Van Wissem’s antique lute repertoire has never been more timely

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For the better part of two decades, Jozef Van Wissem has been on a mission to challenge the notion that his main instrument is a museum piece. The 57-year-old Dutchman has recontextualized the Renaissance lute by submerging its sound in Maurizio Bianchi’s industrial noise, by improvising with guitarist Tetuzi Akiyama, and by engaging in instrumental duels with feedback guitarist and filmmaker Jim Jarmusch. But on his latest album, We Adore You, You Have No Name (Consouling Sound), Van Wissem has returned to the gallery. “You Know That I Love You” is modeled on the madrigal that’s being performed by the boy musician in Michelangelo Caravaggio’s 16th-century painting Lute Player—Van Wissem was commissioned by the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, Russia, to play the piece during an unveiling event for the restored artwork in late 2017. On another song, “Bow Down,” he sings about the medieval practice of drinking alcohol because untreated water was so unsafe—and given the ongoing crisis in Flint, Michigan, it would seem that not much has changed since the dark ages. Van Wissem last played here in 2013, and since then his other records have added electric guitar, programmed beats, and reverb-saturated vocals to the sparse, palindromic figures he plays on his lute. He only tours with his main instrument, but you can expect to hear him sing a couple tunes at this show.   v

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