Nick Hoffman, Takahiro Kawaguchi, and Aaron Zarzutzki; Dan Smith & Graham Stephenson; Takahiro Kawaguchi | Elastic | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Nick Hoffman, Takahiro Kawaguchi, and Aaron Zarzutzki; Dan Smith & Graham Stephenson; Takahiro Kawaguchi All Ages Soundboard Recommended

When: Tue., Sept. 20, 9:30 p.m. 2011

Even among Japanese sound artists, a community that routinely pushes the boundaries of what music can be, Takahiro Kawaguchi is a strange one. On his releases over the past few years he's credited as playing objects, tuning forks, and "remodeled counters," none of which brings to mind any particular genre. On the 2007 improvised album Septet (Meenna) it's often hard to tell what's happening, despite the presence of traditional instruments like trombone, flute, and guitar; the faint sounds produced by the musicians are usually overshadowed by the incidental noises they make—rustling clothes, shifting chairs, fingers moving on keys or fretboards. On his solo debut, 2009's n (Hibari), Kawaguchi produces a rising and falling cacophony of small clicks and clacks, mostly using the aforementioned counters, which appear to be modified handheld timers of some sort. On YouTube you can find videos of Kawaguchi arranging dozens of the devices all over a performance space, setting them to clatter in a symphony of fixed, steadily phasing polyrhythms that sounds almost like mechanical rainfall. I'm just as pleasantly puzzled by his newest work, a collaboration with Taku Unami called Teatro Assente (Erstwhile); with titles like "Her Cellphone Rang While She Was Watching the Blank Screen of the Theater," it seems intended as a kind of pure-sound radio play. Neither musician is credited with any instruments, but you can hear footsteps, electronic beeps, clanging pots, distant voices, and tinkling bells, in addition to Kawaguchi's incessantly ticking counters and some unexpected metal guitar riffing from Unami, all separated by swaths of silence. Rarely does something that mystifies me so much also fascinate me like this. Kawaguchi will perform solo to open the show and headline in a trio with Nick Hoffman on sewing machine and Aaron Zarzutzki on no-output turntable; the duo of Dan Smith (modular synthesizer) and Graham Stephenson (amplified trumpet) plays second. —Peter Margasak

Price: $7

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