Three Beats: Haptic plays a piece inspired by Saturn's rings | Three Beats | Chicago Reader

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Three Beats: Haptic plays a piece inspired by Saturn's rings

Plus, the drool-inducing Russian Circles and Astrobrite returns!

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EXPERIMENTAL | Peter Margasak

Haptic to perform a piece inspired by the rings of Saturn

It's been a year since the experimental music trio Haptic has performed locally, but this week they seem to be making up for that absence. They'll perform twice over the next few days, playing two different programs of all-new material. (They also have a new recording.)

On Friday, October 21, the group will be at Experimental Sound Studio, performing the world premiere of a new composition written for them by Michael Pisaro, the most important American member of the Wandelweiser Group—an influential collective of experimental composers based in Europe. Pisaro has working on the piece, "Concentric Rings in Magnetic Levitation," since late 2009 after striking up an correspondence with Haptic's Adam Sonderberg. He designed the new work based on e-mail discussions with each member and building a catalog of the group's inventory of sounds. Inspired by recent discoveries about the electromagnetic nature of Saturn's rings, Pisaro created a piece that places various sounds in patterns that circle one another, using the 88-keys of a piano as the key framework.

On Tuesday, October 25, Haptic performs another new work at the Museum of Contemporary Art, in conjunction with the new minimalist and post-minimalist exhibition "The Language of Less (Then and Now)." Sonderberg wrote "Three Plus Three" with John Cage’s late "Number Pieces" in mind—a set of pieces that use specific durations to frame the abstract activities of the musicians. He created a grid to delineate how Haptic’s members and three guests—bass clarinetist Jason Stein, reedist Keefe Jackson, and violinist Nomi Epstein—will occupy an uninterrupted chain of 45-second segments over the course of the 45’45” piece.

The group has just released a new album Scilens (Chicago’s FSS label has released a cassette version, while the UK imprint Entr’acte has issued the music on CD). For the trio’s recordings individual members of the group create sounds and passages separately and Sonderberg has traditionally been the one to assemble them; sometimes materials can sit in their archives for five or six years before they end up being used. Scilens marks the first time someone other than Sonderberg has assembled the various materials that go into each of the group’s recording; this time he was helped by fellow member Joseph Clayton Mills. Speaking of Mills, "Laughter & Tears," his sound installation with Olivia Block, will run from 10 AM-10 PM throughout the sound system at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park on November 4 and 5.

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METAL | Miles Raymer

Strong chance of drool with Russian Circles' Empros

In a recent interview with the webzine 1000 Knives, Russian Circles bassist Brian Cook lists among other recent infatuations a couple of effects pedals: Tonebutcher's Pocket Pus (a "fuzz that has this weird arpeggiating decay on it") and Fuzzrocious's Terrordactyl, which he describes as "basically a fuzz pedal with a filter on it that makes everything sound super gooey and nasty. i [sic] basically just sit and play slow sustained power chords through it and drool all over myself."

You can hear both pedals (and presumably more) on the proggy metal power trio's new album, Empros, which comes out on vinyl, CD, and in digital form courtesy of their management group Sargent House's in-house label on October 25.

In the usual fashion for a Russian Circles record, Empros swells, sprawls, churns, and does other verbs that are more commonly applied to weather systems than rock records. Devotees of heavy psychedelic music might find that the album causes uncontrollable drooling as well. The group's about to embark on a monthlong tour that includes shows with heavy outfits Helms Alee, Young Widows, and Boris, and which concludes December 3 at Lincoln Hall.

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INDIE | Leor Galil

After a 14-year hiatus, Astrobrite returns for a celebration of local shoegaze

Mid-90s shoegaze band Astrobrite—the introspective, fuzz-laden solo project of Michigan expat Scott Cortez—will return to the stage for its first proper live show since 1997 at Late Bar on Thursday, October 20. Cortez says Phil DeStefano, who spins under the name DJ Peroxide and hosts a weekly dark-alternative-music night at the bar called Bittersweet, was the impetus for the reunion.

"Phil asked me, over drinks at the bar, if I would play the event he was setting up on his birthday," Cortez says. "I agreed to do it as a present for him."

DeStefano has put together quite a blowout, dubbed Bittersweet Blissfest, to celebrate his 24th birthday; New Canyons and Bliss City East—two local acts with new, distinct spins on shoegaze—will open for Astrobrite, with DeStefano DJing between sets.

Blissfest will also celebrate the work of BLVD Records and its involvement in the local shoegaze community. Label cofounder Melissa Geils, who bartends at Late Bar, helped DeStefano organize the fest, and members of the bands behind the label's three forthcoming releases are on the night's bill. New Canyons' untitled sophomore effort is on the dock as is pinkshinyultrablast, the second LP in the label's series of Astrobrite reissues. The third release is a 12-inch from dream-pop act Mahogany called Electric Prisms; Mahogany member Andrew Prinz will back Cortez for Astrobrite's set, during which he's going to perform Crush, the first Astrobrite album that BLVD reissued.

Geils anticipates the records will come out in early 2012, and the label will stream of some of the new tunes.

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