Chicago's fertile free-improv scene is still pretty much unparalleled in terms of activity and depth, but its DIY ethic is no longer unique. Scrappy communities of hungry young instrumentalists have cropped up in places like Baltimore, Boston, Madison, and Toronto--where percussionist Mike Gennaro and guitarist Kurt Newman, who perform together as Wrist Error, curate a biweekly series at a local cafe. Although they've yet to develop truly original voices (Derek Bailey is all over Newman's splintery jags of noise and abrupt, knotty runs, and I hear Paul Lovens on Gennaro's frenetic, richly detailed kit demolitions) an unreleased recording I heard this spring bristles with creative energy and uncanny intuition. And the breadth of their technique and their improv vocabulary are pretty impressive for a couple of indie-rock expatriates still in their mid-20s. In flashes, they do transcend their influences--particularly Newman, whose beautifully illogical machinations can morph from dry harmonic plinks to banjolike plonks to ominous, industrial-sounding hums. Next month Wrist Error will release their debut, Tempo Tempo, on their own imprint, Ulterior Recordings; they also have a recording with Swedish sax wunderkind Mats Gustafsson in the can. Wednesday, January 5, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Mark Pennock.