Paul Metzger, Jozef Van Wissem, Che Chen & Robbie Lee | Empty Bottle | Jazz, Experimental | Chicago Reader

Paul Metzger, Jozef Van Wissem, Che Chen & Robbie Lee Early Warnings (Music) Member Picks Soundboard

When: Tue., June 21, 9 p.m. 2011

There are plenty of instrument inventors out there, but few have the rigorous vision of Minneapolis oddball Paul Metzger. On last year's stunning The Uses of Infinity (Locust), he coaxes iridescent overlapping tones from his custom-made 23-string banjo that make it sound like a distant cousin of the Indian sarangi. He plucks snaking melodies on the instrument's brittle-sounding primary strings while strumming others to produce rippling, evanescent sympathetic drones; despite his work's surface similarities to Indian classical music, though, Metzger doesn't imitate raga structures, instead designing his own architecture of motific development. He recorded the six-part composition on Infinity in a century-old Duluth cathedral, and the space adds a nice natural reverb. —Peter Margasak

Thus far ingratiation and compromise haven't much figured into Dutch lutenist Jozef Van Wissem's campaign to rescue his instrument from museum-piece status. He seems to prefer to showcase the lute's capacity to thrive in challenging nonperiod settings—he might improvise freely with west-coast freaks Smegma, for instance, or play solo pieces that illustrate the links between Renaissance compositions and contemporary minimalism. But Van Wissem isn't completely averse to interfacing with the mainstream. That's him plucking away on the soundtrack to the video game The Sims Medieval, and on his new album, The Joy That Never Ends (Important), he duets with filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, who places ribbons of guitar feedback into the empty spaces in the lute's stair-­stepping strums so exquisitely that I wonder if he shouldn't give the movies a rest and go full-time into music. Robbie Lee (bass clarinet, contrabass recorder, banjo, electronics) and Che Chen (violin, percussion, bowed rawap, tape delay) share Van Wissem's interest in merging the sound worlds of the Renaissance and the present without lapsing into men-in-tights fakery, and they perform with him as the trio Heresy of the Free Spirit. Their own music covers an enormous range, from gentle explorations of woodwind and string textures to savagely psychedelic blowouts. —Bill Meyer See also Monday.

Price: $8

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