Ensemble dal Niente pianist Mabel Kwan on a playful post-smartphone look at David | In Rotation | Chicago Reader

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Ensemble dal Niente pianist Mabel Kwan on a playful post-smartphone look at David

Plus: Kelley Sheehan of Cacophony magazine on a solo percussion study of Russian Futurism, Reader critic Peter Margasak on Mariam the Believer’s latest leap of faith, and more

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A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.

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Peter Margasak, Reader music critic

Pandit Pran Nath, Sings Ragas Bheempalasi & Puriya Dhanaashree This is the second volume of recordings made in Paris in 1972 by brilliant classical Indian vocalist Pandit Pran Nath when he was touring and performing with American disciples Terry Riley, La Monte Young, and Marian Zazeela. The afternoon concert captured here—the first time anyone had performed these two ragas in Paris at the appropriate time of day—makes an effective showcase for his microtonal precision, ingenious phrasing, and penetrating timbre.

Mariam the Believer, Love Everything Swedish singer Mariam Wallentin (best known as half of Wildbirds & Peacedrums) has always moved comfortably between pop and experimental modes, and on her latest solo album she sets her sumptuous melodies in fascinating arrangements loaded with surprising details, many of them provided by daring avant-garde figures such as guitarist Oren Ambarchi and singer Sofia Jernberg.

Die Enttäuschung, Lavaman On their first new album in five years, Berlin's Die Enttäuschung not only withstand the loss of founding drummer Uli Jennesen (seamlessly replaced by Michael Griener) but grow into a quintet with the addition of trombonist Christof Thewes. They remain one of the most agile, imaginative, and satisfying improvising bands on the planet, especially with Thewes joining the highly interactive front line of bass clarinetist Rudi Mahall and trumpeter Axel Dörner.

Peter is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

A still from Guan Xiao’s video David - DARREN & BRAD
  • Darren & Brad
  • A still from Guan Xiao’s video David

Mabel Kwan, Ensemble dal Niente pianist

Jonathan Piper and Michelle Lou's duo Go by Land In the winter months you need a warm, furry jacket. The music of improvising duo Go by Land (tubaist-electronicist Jonathan Piper and bassist-electronicist Michelle Lou) makes a fine sonic equivalent. It's currently my go-to for cooking, working, listening, everything. Jonathan has several other tuba projects, including a jug band that will put sunshine in your day. Michelle is a visiting lecturer in composition at Dartmouth, and her sound world is worth many listens.

Guan Xiao, David This 2013 video piece is a perfect synthesis of so many things: visuals, sound, text, humor, commentary, entertainment. Beijing-based artist Guan Xiao looks at the way we look at things through our phones and other technology, and at how we try to interface with something old and classic, such as Michelangelo's sculpture David. It's a topic that performers and artists revisit often. The hilarious soundtrack she wrote for David (on which she also sings) is an integral part of the whole experience.

Scott Ross playing the complete harpsichord works of Jean-Philippe Rameau I've been obsessed with a 1727 piece by Rameau called Gavotte and Six Doubles. My favorite interpretation is by Scott Ross (1951-1989), who is one of my favorite harpsichordists anyway. He mostly followed performance conventions, but at the same time his interpretations still sound contemporary. He played the way he wanted to, always with clarity, directness, and beauty.

Mabel is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

Katelyn King performing Christopher Adler’s “S-K-L”
  • Katelyn King performing Christopher Adler’s “S-K-L”

Kelley Sheehan, performer, composer, coartistic director of Cacophony

Christopher Adler's "S-K-L" as performed by Katelyn King This piece belongs to a suite of ten short Adler compositions collectively titled Zaum Box. On his website he describes it as "scored for solo percussionist who orates Russian Futurist poetry while performing on a variety of instruments and devices." I choose to highlight a 2016 rendition of "S-K-L," which delights us with text by Aleksei Kruchenykh and a skillful performance by Katelyn Rose King-Utzinger. Her setup includes a gong, a small fan, an inverted snare drum, a glass bottle, and a tumbler with a straw—it's special, and I'll watch her again and again.

Alexa Meade, Jon Boogz, and Lil Buck, Color of Reality It's hard to choose just one piece by movement artists Jon Boogz and Lil Buck, but in this case the bold brushwork and startling colors of installation artist Alexa Meade helped me decide. I first watched this piece just before bed, and I woke up the next morning still thinking about it. The care and attention that drips from every aspect of this video is beyond my ability to articulate. Once you watch it, I know you'll want to see more, so I'll point you toward Am I a Man?

The Weekend EP Project You can easily get the idea from the name: the Weekend EP Project gives an artist 72 hours to complete an EP, and releases a new one every month. In particular, I'm fond of Noisée le Seque's piece "Instant Success" and composer Sivan Cohen Elias's EP Eve & Adinn, but each contribution is equally good and worth your time.

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