Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Tiny Hairs, Molar and Gene Coleman & Jonathan Chen

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The PAC/edge Performance Festival (see the sidebar in Theater) isn't long on music, but this showcase for the local improvised-music label False Walls promises to be a highlight. Tiny Hairs' new album, Coldless, is a work of desolate beauty: violinist Peter Rosenbloom and guitarists Mark Booth and Jonathan Liss are wonderful at shaping their parts around one another's, sometimes in interlocking patterns, sometimes in three-way solo explorations, but always with satisfying musicality; drummer Jim Lutes, upright bassist John DeVylder, and electronics guy Charles King alternately gird their elliptical patterns in loose-limbed grooves and strident noise. "Stalk of an Eye," with its Morricone-esque twang, suggests a Tortoise piece condensed to the succinctness of haiku. Although two members of the New York trio Molar play guitar, their music is processed to sound entirely electronic. Like Tiny Hairs, the group eschews clear-cut structures in favor of spontaneous ebb and flow, but the chopped-up club rhythms and digital chill of their new The Time and Motion Studies struck me as clinical and boring. Composer and bass clarinetist Gene Coleman rounds out the bill. A longtime advocate of new music in Chicago who moved to Philadelphia last year, he made his mark as leader of Ensemble Noamnesia and curator of the Sound Field festival. Lately he's worked with a number of Japanese avant-gardists; his recent False Walls release Storobo Imp. is a collection of tight-wound yet conversational duets with guitarist Uchihashi Kazuhisa. Coleman will play here with local violinist Jonathan Chen. Sunday, March 14, 9 PM, Athenaeum Theatre studio, 2936 N. Southport; 773-722-5463 or 312-902-1500.

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