Paul Metzger | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Paul Metzger

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Twin Cities multi-instrumentalist Paul Metzger has played thrashy, jazz-influenced rock with TVBC on and off since the late 80s, but as idiosyncratic as that band's material can be, it pales next to the solo music Metzger's unveiled in the past couple years. His CD Three Improvisations on Modified Banjo (Chairkickers' Union) owes more to Indian ragas than American mountain music. He's fitted his instrument with 21 strings--including several resonating, or sympathetic, strings--and for the album's opening passage he uses an E-Bow to create a sound like a cross between a musical saw and a bansuri, or Indian bamboo flute. After working that tone into quivering, uncoiling shapes for four and a half meditative minutes, he starts plucking and striking the strings while rapping on the banjo's surfaces, sounding much like a one-man duet of tabla and santoor. On "August," his side-long contribution to a recent Roaratorio split LP with the duo of Ben Chasny and Chris Corsano, Metzger plays a guitar with a similarly large complement of strings, which he's further customized with the guts from a couple music boxes--their stark chiming provides a succinct counterpoint to his dramatic flamenco-style strumming and swooning slide licks. Metzger's Chicago debut is part of the second weekend of the ongoing multidisciplinary presentation "Impossible Cities: A Utopian Experiment" (see Theater), which begins at 7:30 tonight. He opens on tabla with the Forgotten Works, an acoustic duo with guitarist Erik Wivinus, then headlines on banjo. He'll play longer sets solo and with Wivinus on Sunday at the Empty Bottle; see separate Treatment item for details. a 9:20 PM, Peter Jones Gallery, 1806 W. Cuyler (second floor), 312-458-0566 or 773-472-6725, $15. A

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