Curator’s notes: Barn Duet and Louise Bock

Our first curated show of 2017 happens Jan. 6 at Art In.

Our first curated show of 2017 happens Jan. 6 at Art In.


To kick off our series of Tone Madison-curated shows in 2017, we’ve got a night planned with two duos well-equipped to explore the region where psychedelia spills over into a more wide-open take on the avant-garde. They are Chicago’s Barn Duet and Madison’s Louise Bock, and the show is on Friday, January 6 at Art In.

Barn Duet, the collaboration of guitarist Rob Jacobs and drummer Phil Sudderberg, will be playing behind their 2016 album ASMR. Jacobs and Sudderberg both also currently play in bizarro prog outfit Wei Zhongle, and Jacobs released a self-titled solo album in 2015 on the ever-intriguing Chicago label International Anthem. Sudderberg has a host of other collaborations under his belt, and is in a new group Ken Vandermark is putting together.

Barn Duet’s work on ASMR is rooted in improvisation that builds carefully on repetition but still feels like it takes place on a blank slate. On opening track “Come Up,” Jacobs lays down gentle chords and uses his voice to create layers of murmuring, almost reassuring sound, as Sudderberg plays in a more free and chaotic style, but keeps his drums at a careful simmer throughout. On “Popcorn Lung,” Jacobs delivers a ruminative spoken-word performance and layers prickly, fragmented guitar phrases over Sudderberg’s gently brushed snare.

The longest track, “Ceremony,” has a bit more foreboding and a lot more low end. Around a bass-y swell that might be a kick drum or Jacobs pitching down his guitar, the two play around the edges, gradually cohering with each other (or at least coming closer to cohesion) in a back-and-forth of rattling percussion and eerily chiming guitar. A live video of Barn Duet from this past October suggests that their live set here will bring just as much tonal and emotional range as ASMR, with maybe a little extra abrasion thrown in.

Louise Bock is the new solo moniker of Taralie Peterson, half of Madison/NYC avant-folk duo Spires That In The Sunset Rise. Peterson has previously billed her solo work under the name Tar Pet, including the 2013 album Deaf Drawing Blind Listening. At this performance, Peterson will be playing cello and saxophone, and fellow Madison musician Jeff Stanek will be joining in on piano and harp.

Name change or not, I’ve always found Peterson’s solo sets to be unpredictable and empathic, with an improvised component and a rich sense of melodic direction. Stanek more often plays in classical settings, like the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival, so I’m looking forward to seeing how his abilities translate in a more free setting.

An ode to the best and worst of Madison summers.

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