Keith Rowe & Toshimaru Nakamura | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Keith Rowe & Toshimaru Nakamura

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As a founder of the English free-improv group AMM, Keith Rowe blazed a new trail for guitarists in the 60s, laying his instrument down flat and coaxing nontraditional sounds from it by rubbing, thwacking, scraping, and scrambling its strings with mundane objects like clips and files. But even more influential was his and his bandmates' approach to improvisation: as he told the Wire in 2001, AMM has "always been about searching for the sound in the performance, as opposed to conceiving and then producing the sound in performance." AMM's richly layered, glacially morphing soundscapes paved the way for the generation of players that's emerged over the last half decade under the rubric of electroacoustic improvisation. Unlike some of his peers Rowe has happily embraced the next wave: he's a member of MIMEO, along with a slew of talented laptop and computer musicians like Christian Fennesz, Peter Rehberg, and Marcus Schmickler, and he's released a steady stream of duo and trio recordings with improvisers who find beauty in pure tones and electronic glitches. On a brand-new recording called Thumb (Grob), Rowe joins Australia's Oren Ambarchi (guitar, electronics) and Robbie Avenaim (percussion, electronics) and Japan's Sachiko M (sampler) and Yoshihide Otomo (turntables, electronics, guitar) in sculpting a cool, quiet industrial hum that thickens ever so slowly as subtle details flicker in and out. For this appearance Rowe is joined by Japanese improviser Toshimaru Nakamura, who produces harsh but reverberant loops using a mixing board that's plugged into itself; on their 2001 recording, Weather Sky (Erstwhile), Rowe generates a droney low-end sizzle through which Nakamura's high-frequency squeals unspool like fishing line behind a panicked marlin. Monday, February 3, 9 PM, 3030, 3030 W. Cortland; 773-862-3616.

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