Voice Crack | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
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VOICE CRACK

Recording for Germany's FMP label back in the 70s and early 80s, the Swiss duo of Norbert Moeslang and Andy Guhl made some of the most wigged-out free improvisation records ever heard. On the recently reissued Deep Voices (Urthona), for example, their keen, highly intuitive playing on bass and traditional reed instruments was bolstered with noises produced on homemade instruments and a tape recorder, adding a sense of wildness and mystery to music that was already unpredictable. By the late 80s they transformed into Voice Crack, an entity so triumphantly chaotic, noisy, and creative that their earlier work sounded tame by comparison, as they ditched their acoustic instruments in favor of what they call "cracked everyday-electronics." It's hard to know exactly what that is, but it sure ain't a fleet of old Casiotones. Through terrific albums with New York's noise-mongering free improv titans Borbetomagus (Fish That Sparkling Bubble and Asbestos Shake) Voice Crack found some common ground. Both groups explored woolly free improvisation but chose gushing, unreconstructed noise over plink-plonk interactions. More astonishing, however, is Voice Crack's only noncollaborative album, 1990's Earflash (recently reissued stateside by Dexter's Cigar, a new label run by David Grubbs and Jim O'Rourke of Gastr del Sol). Joined by percussionist Knut Remond, Moeslang and Guhl distance themselves from less sophisticated "noise" acts in telling ways--particularly in their dynamic range, which runs from almost delicate gurgling to eardrum-piercing cacophony. For those interested in either unrelenting experimentalism or broad musical extremes, Voice Crack's first Chicago appearance shouldn't be missed. Tuesday, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 276-3600. PETER MARGASAK

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

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