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Cosmic guitars and experimental percussion bring music back to Arts + Literature Laboratory

Marisa Anderson and William Tyler perform at the venue on October 20, followed by a visit from Jon Mueller, Barry Paul Clark, and Andrew Fitzpatrick on October 30.

Photo: Guitarists Marisa Anderson (left) and William Tyler pose next to each other. Photo by Eli Johnson/courtesy of Thrill Jockey Records.

Two upcoming performances this month at Arts + Literature Laboratory help break in the venue’s new space on the near east side with a renewed focus on exploratory and experimental sounds. 

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American guitarists Marisa Anderson and William Tyler perform Wednesday, October 20 following their recent collaborative album Lost Futures, released this year on Thrill Jockey. (Full disclosure: I sometimes help select music for shows at Art + Lit Lab, but was not involved in planning either of the performances previewed here.) Both Anderson and Tyler have built up formidable bodies of work as solo artists before this collaboration—each has a way of drawing on deep blues and country traditions while creating an imaginative, cosmic account of a present day landscape. Lost Futures evokes a sense of pastoral escapism, yet is firmly rooted in both the hopeful and the maudlin conditions of grappling with today’s turmoil. 

The record begins with “News About Heaven”, a melodic, wistful introduction that sets the listener up for dreamlike instrumental storytelling. “Something Will Come” provides an exciting turn halfway through Lost Futures. The duo takes off in a galloping drone, sustaining anticipation of some dynamic arrival in a psychedelic loop, before ceasing abruptly. “At The Edge Of The World” follows with a communion of conversational guitar and violin by Gisela Rodriguez Fernandez over a perpetual Cumbia rhythm. 

On October 30, Arts + Lit Lab highlights a night of adventurous music by three Wisconsin experienters. Percussionist Jon Mueller headlines as part of his Afterlife Cartoons tour. Mueller takes a percussion-forward stance as opposed to simply treating the drums as a rhythmic component in his performances, creating an opportunity for mindfulness and spiritual reflection. One of his latest releases, Family Secret, features gongs and singing bowls as a sonic exploration of light and space. In addition to solo percussion, Mueller has performed and recorded as a member of Volcano Choir, Mind Over Mirrors, Pele, and Collections Of Colonies Of Bees. 

Milwaukee bassist Barry Paul Clark will join Mueller for an improvised collaboration at this show. Clark, who can be heard in Tontine ensemble, his solo project adoptahighway, and Field Report, among others, performs classical bass in symphonic settings, as well as in various improvisatory and experimental projects. Mueller joins Clark’s effects-manipulated upright bass on drum kit.  

Starting off the night is Madison’s Andrew Fitzpatrick, most recently of psychedelic electronic duo Cap Alan, as well as All Tiny Creatures, Volcano Choir, and Bon Iver. Fitzpatrick, who often performs under the name Noxroy, regularly collaborates with local experimenters, including Ka Baird and Spiral Joy Band. Earlier this year, he released his first solo album under his own name, Belief Diagram, building on the richly textured electronic work he’s previously explored under the Noxroy moniker. His sets often engulf the audience in a bright blanket of sound––an expansive patchwork of singularly delightful colors. Fitzpatrick performs here on guitar, synthesizer, and sampler behind visual accompaniment. 

Arts + Lit Lab has programmed several music events in its new space amongst the various, often more regular workshops, programs and art exhibits. Yet these two shows begin to fill the void of adventurous music that was missing during lockdown and the venue’s relocation. 


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