For 13 years Liof Munimula have pursued a craft that's brought no remuneration, a striking testimonial to their artistic dedication. Michael Zerang (percussion), Daniel Scanlan (electric guitar, trumpet, violin)--who also work together in the Vandermark Quartet--and Don Meckley (shortwaves, various invented noise-generating machines) have elevated free improvisation to the highest level of intuitive interaction. Zerang's percussion setup is anything but standard, a beautifully jerry-rigged construction that incorporates both traditional drums and all sorts of creatively appropriated percussive devices. Meckley's array is even more astonishing. Handmade instruments like the Radio Tar (a massive shortwave radio with a swinging guitar neck/antenna) and the Hydro-kalimba (a ridiculously tall contraption that drips water from dozens of different-length strings onto an electric kalimba) are themselves works of art, but Meckley's supple manipulation of his instruments transcends their conceptual audacity. Dense textural, coloristic beds of pure sound, Liof Munimula's experiments are remarkably musical and often sound through-composed, but the manner in which the musicians listen to one another and play off what they hear is truly something to behold. "Another Jolly Abyss" is described by the trio as "a sound exploration in five evening-length episodes," which follows the group's decidedly antilogical ruminations perfectly: it's a work spanning five nights by a combo that makes everything up on the spot. Liof Munimula's performances are extremely infrequent, and these five nights will be crammed with fascinating, exciting, and rich expositions on instant composition. There'll surely be some unifying theme, though hell if I can tell you what it'll be. It's worth the gamble (and a series pass will save you some serious scratch). Wednesday through next Sunday, October 16, 8:30 PM, Blue Rider Theatre, 1822 S. Halsted; 733-4668.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Marc PoKempner.