Rafael Toral | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Rafael Toral

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Portugal is the source of one of the world's virtuoso guitar traditions--fado, the cousin of flamenco--but Lisbon-based guitarist Rafael Toral doesn't deal with complex picking patterns and lush romantic exhibitionism. Instead this 28-year-old stringer draws inspiration from the traditions of noise guitar and resonance-oriented composition, playing sheets of electric guitar that drone, hum, and shimmer like some white-hot radioactive material. Toral cites composer Alvin Lucier and his investigations of acoustical resonance as a crucial precursor, though his own pieces are decidedly electric. Too dirty to call ambient, too gentle to call industrial, Toral's unique sound entails a static investigation of space and volume--in fact, the liner notes on his CD Wave Field (Moneyland Records) bear the unusual suggestion "play very soft or very loud." If you go the quiet route, Toral's slowly moving tones color the room, changing its hue and mood; if you choose "very loud," suddenly the details of the guitar--irregularities, bumps, jags--pop out like skin pores under an electron microscope. Toral's approach has the guttural power of rock, but it also carries the wavelike contemplation of a rich minimalist like Morton Feldman. For anyone who's never seen this kind of long-form noise-guitar performance, this event should be a fantastic introduction, since Chicago's own well-known exponent, Jim O'Rourke, will share the bill--they'll both play solos, then perform together. Tuesday, November 14, 11 PM, Lunar Cabaret & Full Moon Cafe, 2827 N. Lincoln; 327-6666.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Falcon D.

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