Madison native Nathaniel Bartlett's primary instrument may be the marimba, but his work uses an ever-shifting combination of percussion elements, experimental electronics, complex sound design, and custom-coded software. His latest release, 2017's Luminous Machine, draws inspiration from the three years Bartlett and his family spent living in northern New Mexico, and there's an eerie, astringent openness to the solo-percussion track "Apical Topography," which evokes the high desert in its own abstract way.
At this performance, his first since moving back to Madison, Bartlett will present "Apical Topography" and five other original compositions, with configurations (channeled through electronic performances here) including an array of snare drums on "Impulse Response" and the union of computer and marimba on "Neoteric Topology." The centerpiece of the concert, though, will be groundbreaking experimental composer Edgard Varèse's "Poème Électronique," initially created for and performed at the 1958 Brussels World's Fair. Varèse debuted the composition with an elaborate arrangement of speakers inside a dramatic fair pavilion designed by Le Corbusier, so it will be interesting to hear how Bartlett's own ideas about space and sound shape the piece here. —Scott Gordon