Minimalist composer Arnold Dreyblatt is as adaptable as he is innovative | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Minimalist composer Arnold Dreyblatt is as adaptable as he is innovative

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Maybe the collaboration between minimalist composer Arnold Dreyblatt and trio Megafaun on 2013’s Appalachian Excitation (Northern Spy) seemed odd at first: the former came up in the fertile underground experimental NYC scene of the 1970s, while the latter keep to the hills of Durham, North Carolina, propagating an off-kilter brand of psych-touched folk. But Dreyblatt, who’s been based in Berlin since the 80s, is both an innovative and an adaptable avant-garde composer, unreluctant to build rhythms upon which to elaborate. Founded in 1979, his ever-morphing Orchestra of Excited Strings—which released the triumphant Propellers in Love in 1986 and the tick-tocking The Adding Machine in 2002, among many other records—stretches and bends the sounds of orchestral instruments through idiosyncratic tuning to create whirling rhythms and textures that could easily provide groundwork for an art-rock project. Plucked violin pirouettes alongside slow dances between double bass and piano, mimicking, for instance, the steady churning of an antique music box. Tones swell within each cyclical rhythm to the point that you become convinced a grand gesture is afoot, only to realize a minute later that the piece has subtly sidestepped rather than shifted into an entirely different beast. It’s spellbinding. Tonight’s performance coincides with the reissue of Propellers that Superior Viaduct is dropping in early April, but be ready for anything.   v

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