Curator's notes: Jon Mueller, Jason Kahn, and Sheba
Tone Madison hosts a night of avant-garde exploration on April 18.
Tone Madison's next curated show is on April 18 at Arts + Literature Laboratory. Here's a few thoughts on why we picked the artists who are playing. Donors to our Patreon page receive discounted admission to these events.
The first time I saw Jon Mueller play live, he was touring behind his 2008 album Metals, one of many works the Milwaukee artist has made centering around demanding solo-percussion performances. In his set at the now-closed Project Lodge on East Johnson, Mueller played a continuous half-hour or so of crushingly loud but intensively disciplined music that drew on the sounds of heavy-metal drumming but, in part through sheer repetition, twisted those ideas into a wholly alien and enthralling experience.
Point is, seeing Jon Mueller play live is all about being pinioned in the moment. It's a concept Mueller has overtly explored through the presentation and execution of his solo work. His collaborative, multi-disciplinary project Death Blues, which concluded with a 2015 show at the Shitty Barn, found inspiration and beauty and urgency in the fleeting nature of life itself. His 2014 work Initiation was recorded but presented exclusively through live events. His newest release, dHrAaNwDn, will be available as an LP but never digitally. You may also know of Mueller through his work in the great Milwaukee instrumental band Pele, or his collaborations in Volcano Choir, Mind Over Mirrors and, previously, Collections Of Colonies Of Bees.
Mueller's recordings, from the ecstatic orchestration of Death Blues' 2014 album Ensemble to the stark percussion and wordless vocals of 2016's Tongues and 2015's A Magnetic Center, might be rich and varied, but the entrancing exertion of his live sets is just as essential as any one release. I don't know a lot of the details of the solo set he'll be playing here, but I do know from having seen him several more times over the years that what he does in these performances is both constantly evolving and patiently exploring the esoteric depths of percussion and human connection.
Also on tour at this show is American-born, Zurich-based Jason Kahn, a sound artist who has worked with voice, percussion, electronics, installations, and a variety of collaborations (including with Mueller, on the 2008 release Topography). His set here will be a solo voice performance. As you can hear on this track from his newest release, Monads, Kahn uses his voice to explore a broad and sometimes unsettling range of sounds and textures, from barely audible rasps and wheezes to mournful, keening drones. .
Finally, this show will also be the debut of a new Madison-based project, Sheba, consisting of multi-instrumentalist Jen Clare Paulson and bassists Rob Lundberg and Brad Townsend. I'm excited to have Paulson play because she's worked in an incredible variety of settings: playing viola with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, working with avant-jazz standouts in projects like Wrack and Ken Vandermark's Audio One, playing violin in Madison bluegrass band Milkhouse Radio, and playing koto in collaborative settings and the occasional experimental solo outing.
At this show, Paulson be playing viola and maybe koto. Here's what she told me recently about why she's started this new project: "I'll be drawing on my experience with Chicago's improvisation scene and my abiding fondness and respect for bass players. Sheba is an ongoing project where I'll be working with as many bassists as I can muster in situations involving both improvisation and composition. This set will primarily be improvisation with probably/maybe a graphic score or two thrown in."
We very much look forward to sharing this evening of experimental sound with you. Don't forget about the other Tone Madison-presented shows we've got on the horizon:
April 22: Record Store Day Party with Wood Chickens, No Hoax, DJ Quinley and DJ Jared Perez. Bandung Indonesian Restaurant, noon, free.
May 18: GateSound: High Plains + Anjou, Alej Perez. Gates of Heaven, 7 p.m., all ages, $8.
May 27: Assembler Electronic Music Workshop. Arts + Literature Laboratory, 2 p.m., all ages, free.
June 24: EMS + nothing natural, Kleptix. Art In, 8 p.m., $8