Lasse Marhaug | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Lasse Marhaug


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Norwegian sound artist Lasse Marhaug got his start in the mid-90s as part of the international noise underground, releasing dozens of hard-to-find cassettes produced with effects pedals and cheap tape recorders. His stuff was harsh, loud, and violent, with no regard for melody or rhythm. But that's changed quite a bit since he started Jazzkammer in 1998 with guitarist and improviser John Hegre. Though he still finds beauty in static, feedback, and electronic interference, he's using a computer now instead of just analog instruments, and the duo's music is subtler and quieter than Marhaug's earlier stuff. The most extreme example of this new MO is Jazzkammer's Pancakes (Smalltown Supersound, 2002), where following a brief explosion of high-pitched squeals the duo's modulated ambient hum hovers on the brink of inaudibility. But the group's brand-new Pulse (Bottrop-Boy) is louder and a bit more traditionally musical, with looping clicks and vague melodies that overlap and shift under washes of high-frequency sounds, tactile scraping, and muffled wind noises. Marhaug's non-Jazzkammer work hasn't yet reached this level of tranquility, but it's not as dense as it once was either. Frozen by Blizzard Winds (Smalltown), his 2002 collaboration with Chicagoan Kevin Drumm, suggests a brutal storm sweeping across a tundra; his 2001 solo album Nothing but Sound From Now On (Smalltown) is a symphony of softly percolating glitches, rumbles, unidentifiable samples, and white-noise blasts. This weekend's show also includes a performance by Alexander Rishaug, another Norwegian on the Smalltown label who's interested in sound for its own sake, but on his album Panorama he's using the vocabulary of glitchy electronica: digital-error skips, stuttery clusters of beats, floating scraps of melody. The bill is rounded out by Sir Dupermann (aka producer Jorgen Traen, who's worked with Jaga Jazzist and Sondre Lerche); his territory is similar to Rishaug's, but he sticks with more linear melodies and dancier beats. Sunday, October 19, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

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