Mad Nanna, Circuit Des Yeux, Matthew De Gennaro | Burlington | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Mad Nanna, Circuit Des Yeux, Matthew De Gennaro Member Picks Image

When: Wed., Aug. 28, 9 p.m. 2013

When percussionist Jon Mueller interviewed him in 2009, Michigan stringed-instrument specialist Matthew De Gennaro said, "I’ve never entertained the idea of having a career in music, so the need to self-promote for money was never there." And indeed, self-promotion seems like a pretty low priority for him: though he’s released nearly a dozen albums (on his own and with New Zealand guitarist Alastair Galbraith), many have existed only as cassettes or CD-Rs, and because they’re usually produced in small editions, they’re almost always hard to find. De Gennaro lives alone in rural Webster Township, and a sense of isolation and rusticity suffuses his gorgeously austere music—including his stunning new record, Chuang Tzu Motherfucker (Soft Abuse), where he switches instruments and moods from track to track. For the opener, "Butterfly Companion," he employs the astringent bite of the ancient viola da gamba to create an introspective, brittle-sounding meditation, with dark, snaking figures dancing among fainter, higher-pitched long tones. He abruptly switches gears for "Forty (For Pip Proud)," where his pretty fingerstyle guitar seems to be accented by a crackling fireplace, gurgling water, and sparse pump-organ chords; after a crude splice, he intones spoken word (the only time he uses his voice on the album) over simple strumming and distant violin. De Gennaro is self-taught, which seems to have given him an instinctive freedom when it comes to form; often it feels like he’s meandering, but on Chuang Tzu Motherfucker his tangents feel intimate and communicative, as though you were sitting cozily by the fire listening to him tell stories without words. De Gennaro’s noncareerist modus operandi extends to his live performances, which means he doesn’t give many—don’t treat this occasion lightly. —Peter Margasak

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