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Saturday, May 4, 2013 11:58 am

Strange sonic rumblings at the Pharmacy (tonight)


I once took two different women to see the same band a month or so apart. It was a group whose music I really enjoyed, but I suppose it would generally be considered difficult-- noisy, discordant and exploratory, fusing elements of avant-garde jazz and punk rock in a theatrical way that was as much about attitude as artistic expression. Neither woman had been familiar with the group's music beforehand. The first took me aside midway through the show and suggested we leave, complaining that the sounds were reverberating in her fillings, resulting in a splitting headache. The second date not only made it through the entire show but later confessed that she may have had a small spontaneous orgasm during the band's last number. Such can be the varying reactions to unfamiliar sounds. It doesn't seem that either response is more valid than the other, as both were inarguably visceral.

For obvious reasons - mostly commercial in nature - raw, dissonant, unabashedly experimental music must be actively sought out by fans, even within large, varied music scenes like those in New York City and Chicago. In a place like Springfield, such music is even more rare.

But not today! This evenng finds the always forward-looking Pharmacy (Pasfield & South Grand) playing host to a concert by two world-renowned avant-garde musicians, one from France and the other from Japan, soprano saxophonist Michel Doneda and percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani.

Both musicians have played all over the globe for decades with a variety of highly reputed collaborators, but this is not anyone's idea of pop music, not even within the jazz world. A positive notice by Chicago Reader blogger Peter Margasak from a few years back characterized Doneda's saxophone as a sibilant conversation of hisses, high-frequency tones, and what sound like stomach rumblings, going on to say that Nakatani's drumming suggests some weird kind of pulse but often simply adds another texture to the din. So yeah, not for everyone.


Like nontraditional poetry, painting or film, this sort of approach to sound can sometimes test the patience of audiences but it can also lead to moments of spontaneity and transcendence not attainable via more conventional avenues. Local creative improvisors End Times Trio organized this unique opportunity for Springfield music fans and will be opening the show, which begins at the Pharamacy (401 S. Grand West) a little after 6:30 PM, tonight, Sunday May 5.

Send feedback and story ideas to sfaingold@illinoistimes.com


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