Keith Fullerton Whitman | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Keith Fullerton Whitman

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Keith Fullerton Whitman plays here as part of Adventures in Modern Music, a five-night festival curated by British music magazine the Wire and the Empty Bottle, and he's nothing if not adventurous. Under the name Hrvatski (the Croatian word for "Croatian") he's used hectic, distorted breakbeats to rivet together Game Boy themes, processed birdsong, and the occasional prog-rock cover tune. Under his own name he's released a stack of records in the past few years, and though they're relatively subdued they're even more ambitious, applying modern technologies to the aesthetic questions confronted by his forebears. Antithesis (Kranky) is an LP of droning instrumentals indebted to minimalist La Monte Young and Krautrockers Popol Vuh, and on Dartmouth Street Underpass (Locust) he transforms a field recording of ambient sounds from a glassed-in train-station pedway near his home in Somerville, Massachusetts, into a dense, detailed hum, a la Phill Niblock. The discs 21:30 for Acoustic Guitar (Apartment B) and Playthroughs (Kranky) bear the closest relation to what he'll do at this show; Whitman created their hypnotic tone poems by applying computer treatments inspired by Terry Riley's 60s tape-loop experiments to his guitar playing. Playthroughs, the more recent of the two, creates breathtaking beauty from sounds that would once have been deemed mistakes: on "Feedback Zwei" he stirs peals of feedback from his guitar's pickup into a slow-motion whirlpool, and on "Fib01a" he spreads a fine patina of electrical crackling over glistening bubbles of sound reminiscent of Oval. Whitman has informed me that this concert will be "more orchestrated" than the CD, with multitracked accompaniment and possibly "some more raw-sounding things." Entrance plays first, Sightings plays third, and Telefon Tel Aviv headlines. Saturday 24, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $15.

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