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Nobukazu Takemura

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Like the hip-hop pioneers who initially inspired him to make music, Nobukazu Takemura has always found ways to adapt technology to his own needs, whether he's creating viscous soundscapes with turntables or reconfiguring electronic samples. On his recent all-electronic album, 10th (Thrill Jockey), the Osaka experimentalist feeds Japanese lyrics by longtime collaborator Aki Tsuyuko through speech synthesis software--a medical technology that translates written input into spoken words. Takemura manipulates the program to get an unexpectedly wide pitch range, so the vocals are far more expressive than the robotic deadpan it usually produces. But while this is a pretty neat trick and his childlike melodies are genuinely tuneful, I can't get past the fact that I'm listening to a computer simulate a human voice. The same sort of sweet melodic figures are more effective on the forthcoming Songbook (Bubblecore), mostly because Tsuyuko sings her own words. Takemura has used live instrumentation before, but Songbook is his first work that sounds like the product of a real band--and it offers a taste of what he'll be doing for a good portion of his performance this weekend. He'll be joined by Tsuyuko as well as Chicagoans John Herndon on drums and Matt Lux on bass; Takemura will play keyboards and some guitar. He'll perform the rest of his set solo, concentrating on the more abstract music he released on last year's Water's Suite (Extreme) and the forthcoming Assembler/Assembler 2 (Thrill Jockey). Both discs are largely beatless, amorphous outings filled with electronic bursts, glitches, and even a bit of Derek Bailey-style free improvisation. Takemura's gig is part of a multimedia extravaganza taking place in both the Empty Bottle's main room and its cozy upstairs space; minimalist techno mavens Stewart Walker and Gregory Shiff are also on the bill, and there will be several DJ sets as well. Sunday, April 6, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

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