Rhodri Davies | Graham Foundation | Experimental | Chicago Reader

Rhodri Davies Free All Ages Soundboard Recommended Image

When: Sat., April 9, 8 p.m. 2016

Welsh harpist Rhodri Davies is one of the more versatile improvisers in the UK, a bold experimenter whose sound rarely suggests the sweet cascade of sparkling tones we usually expect from his instrument. Davies prefers radical abstraction, often working in collective settings where the ensemble sound trumps individual contributions or isolated interplay (a good example is his group Common Objects, with saxophonist John Butcher, electronicist Lee Patterson, and his violinist sister, Angharad). Naturally, he applies various extended techniques, whether that means bowing the instrument or choking its strings with a small handheld-powered fan, thus turning it the into a pure sound generator. But even on solo recordings, where he plays the harp in a slightly more conventional fashion, he creates unexpected sounds. His 2012 album Wound Response (alt.vinyl) deploys lacerating distortion to rapidly plucked patterns, evincing a strong engagement with African music. The Western harp is a relative of the kora—a 21-string instrument built from a large gourd—but Davies’s aggression here suggests the amplified likembe used by Congolese group Konono No. 1. However on the 2014 album An Air Swept Clean of All Distance, he opts for the pure acoustic sound that suggests a kora, while his halting phrasing hews closer to Welsh folk music or the spasmodic playing of guitarist Bill Orcutt. In his Chicago solo debut, Davies will present recent music for both lap harp and standard concert pedal harp.

Peter Margasak

Price: RSVP at lamporhodridavies.eventbrite.com

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