Olivia Block, Jon Mueller, Cages Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Fri., May 3, 9 p.m. 2013

Milwaukee percussionist and composer Jon Mueller named his latest album Death Blues (Taiga/Hometapes), but it’s all about positivity. If you only had the project’s website or the record’s liner notes to go on and couldn’t hear the forceful, extroverted sounds, Death Blues might seem to be about self-help: on a web page called Considerations, Mueller asks readers to “Pay a visit to a retirement home, for those inside, and for yourself” and to “Find ways to communicate, no matter how thick the wall in-between,” both of which are hard sentiments to argue with. But the album is more properly an affirmation of life inspired by the inevitability of death, driven by crushing drum-kit beats and colored by shimmering percussive drones (provided mostly by rapidly hammered acoustic guitars, a kind of analog to the dulcimer tones on Mueller’s 2010 Type release The Whole). Its six pieces combine martial rhythms, hammered guitar, chanted vocals, and feedback in varying proportions, suggesting wordless, overdriven single-chord work songs—their vigorous, primal sounds are all about emotional release and pushing toward ecstasy. Like just about everything Mueller has done over the past few years, this record keeps sucking me in—I almost want to sign up for the whole Death Blues program. For this performance Mueller plays drums and sings, joined by Ken Palme and Jim Warchol on hammered acoustic guitars. —Peter Margasak Olivia Block headlines; Jon Mueller and Cages open.

Price: $10 suggested donation

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