Polwechsel | Bond Chapel, University of Chicago | Experimental | Chicago Reader

Polwechsel All Ages Critic's Choice Free Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., Oct. 4, 8 p.m. 2008

One of the most important and influential forces in the world of electroacoustic improvisation, the Viennese ensemble Polwechsel has managed to keep listeners on their toes since the mid-90s. Shifting personnel helps: only cellist Michael Moser and bassist Werner Dafeldecker remain from the original lineup, and new members bring new ideas. At the music’s core is totally abstract, microscopic sound that develops slowly and minimally, creating textures and colors that are usually gorgeous and sometimes a little ominous, like storm clouds massing. (The storm never comes; the tension stays wonderfully unresolved.) On Archives of the North (Hatology, 2006) Burkhard Beins and Radian drummer Martin Brandlmayr, both still in the current lineup, altered the blueprint with foregrounded percussion—abraded drumheads and bowed metal whose undulating resonance complemented the long tones of the string players and saxophonist John Butcher (who’s since left the group). Moser also manipulates the ensemble sound in real time with electronics, creating crosscurrents and ripples in the sound. No doubt this performance will contain its own idiosyncratic revelations. —Peter Margasak

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