Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Face the Strange
New Music from Chicago and Beyond

4th Tuesday of the month / Oct 2011 to Apr 2012, 6–7 pm

Musicians perform one-hour sets of new music you may not have heard but should. Series curated by Michael Green and White/Light.


Oct 25: The Eternals

“We have no interest in making empty pop records that sound good and you forget about in a year. We want to make records that people can stay with.” —Damon Locks

Since emerging from the sonic destruction left by the no-wave punk bulldozer Trenchmouth in the late 90s, the Eternals have made a point of disillusioning music purists everywhere. At times they soothe, at other times they serve as a wake-up call with carefully crafted loops mixed with jagged analog synth waves and driving bass lines. No mood, no thought, no feeling is held back.


Nov 22: Ken Camden

Ken Camden is a Chicago-based guitarist whose solo debut, Lethargy and Repercussion, was released on Kranky in 2010. He is also a member of the ambient rock quartet Implodes, which released its debut album, Black Earth (also on Kranky), in spring 2011. As a solo artist Camden combines elements of modern composition, kosmische musik, eastern modal themes, and academic electronic work to explore what can be done by a single person playing live solo guitar. For his Face the Strange performance, Camden presents new solo material along with accompanying video projections.


Dec 27: Wrekmeister Harmonies

J.R. Robinson is a Chicago-based sound artist who works under the name Wrekmeister Harmonies. He has exhibited his ambient tonefields in numerous international institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, the J.Paul Getty Museum, the Guggenheim, and the Centre Pompidou. For the MCA’s Face the Strange series, Robinson screens and conducts a live score to his video You’ve Always Meant So Much To Me. Inspired by minimalist and structuralist filmmakers, Robinson’s video is a highly meditative and starkly beautiful work that juxtaposes various locations in Tasmania, Detroit, Joshua Tree and Brooklyn. Sonically, this version of Wrekmeister Harmonies explores the darkest corners of ambient black metal. The renowned artists joining Robinson for this performance include Jef Whitehead (Leviathan), Jaime Fennelly (Mind Over Mirrors), Bruce Lamont, Sanford Parker (Twilight), Stavros Giannopolous (Atlas Moth) and Mark Solotroff (Bloodyminded) as well as a string section and harpist.


Jan 24: Magic Key

The Chicago-based band Magic Key is the most recent project of Aleks Tomaszewaska who previously recorded and performed as part of the percussion and Farfisa organ duo Aleks and the Drummer. Known for her commanding stage presence and powerful vocals, Tomaszewaska combines such influences as punk, Polish folk songs, psychedelia and angular pop. For her Face the Strange performance Tomaszewaska performs material from the 2008 Aleks and the Drummer EP “May a Lightning Bolt Caress You,” along with new songs from the upcoming Magic Key album.


Feb 28: Spectralina

Spectralina is an audio-visual performance project of the collaborators, lovers, and magicians Dan Bitney and Selina Trepp. Working with song structure as well as in an improvised format, Spectralina creates an image-sound relationship that treats each medium as equal, resulting in performances in which projection and sounds come together as visual music. Bitney is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and sound designer and has been a member of the seminal Chicago-based avant garde rock group Tortoise for close to 20 years. Trepp is an award-winning multimedia visual artist whose practice includes live video performance, often in collaboration with renowned Chicago-area musicians.


Mar 27: The Spires That In The Sunset Rise

Since 2001, Spires That in the Sunset Rise has released four full length albums, Curse The Traced Bird (2008), This Is Fire (2006), Four Winds The Walker (2004), and their first self-titled (2003). Having once been a collaboration of up to five women all hailing from Decatur, Illinois, the music is now the more intimate expression of long time members Kathleen Baird and Taralie Peterson. The instrumentation remains varied and eclectic: harmonium, guitar, slide, banjo, bowed psaltery, cello, flute, autoharp, spike fiddle, mbira, etc. Toying with certain traditions but never fully embracing one, STITSR remains a truly unique vision of the personal and mystical.


Plastic Crimewave Vision Celestial Guitarkestra

Inspired by the guitar symphonies of Glenn Branca and Rhys Chatham, and large ensembles like the Scratch Orchestra and the Sun Ra Arkestra, Steve Krakow’s Plastic Crimewave Vision Celestial Guitarkestra is a large-scale audience participatory event and bona fide spiritual sonic happening. Krakow loosely conducts as many people as can be assembled playing electric guitar in the key of the almighty “E”. Whether you can shred or have never played a note, you are needed (there can be no Guitarkestra without you)! All string instruments allowed, but please bring your own small amplifier (and if you can bring your own power strip and extension cord, even better). Come and experience the raw power of Guitarkestra!