Curator’s notes: Dave Scanlon, Glassmen, and Terran

Join us for a Tone Madison-presented show on Aug. 31 at Arts + Literature Laboratory.

Join us for a Tone Madison-presented show on Aug. 31 at Arts + Literature Laboratory.


Dave Scanlon. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Dave Scanlon. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Tone Madison’s next show, featuring touring and local artists we’ve selected, is on August 31 at Arts + Literature Laboratory. Here’s a few thoughts on why we picked the artists who are playing. Donors to our Patreon page receive discounted admission to these events. For information about other upcoming events, and tickets, go to Tone Madison Presents.

New York City-based guitarist Dave Scanlon is best known for his work in the band Jobs, a thrilling, brutally precise math-rock outfit that also includes Madison resident Rob Lundberg on bass. But Scanlon’s interests and collaborations range far beyond that, from gentle solo pieces to collaborations with avant-garde musicians like Jessica Pavone and John Niekrasz. He plays here behind Coupling Duet, a new solo release that explores another dimension of his work on guitar and piano.

The electric guitar pieces on Coupling Duet are sparse, by turns itchy and serene. Often one notices the little percussive knocks or gentle field recordings Scanlon works in as much as the quiet, deliberate guitar melodies themselves. Things get a little more lush on “Saint Elias, Part II,” but there’s also a lot of thorny dissonance wrapped up in that song. Scanlon is constantly coaxing us to listen a bit more closely here, to embrace the depth that can come from minimal-sounding compositions.

Playing in the middle of this bill are Glassmen, a Madison duo consisting of Sarah Jennings Evans on guitar, vocals, and organ pedals and Vivian Lin on drums and vocals. So far Glassmen have put out just one 2012 EP and a single, but they’ve built up a deeper body of work than that and live sets are the best way to catch up. (Plus most of the recordings were made without Lin.) Seeing Glassmen live is also the best way to appreciate the band’s stripped-down but nuanced sound. Evans’ voice has a constant high quaver to it, but the melodies it carries are sturdy and haunting, often bolstered by back-and-forth exchanges and tense harmonies with Lin. And the drumming is as much a part of the melodies as the vocals or Evans’ wiry guitar phrases; Lin’s playing reminds me a bit of Unwound’s Sarah Lund in its ability to push a song forward while also creating pockets of swing and suspense. Glassmen will be playing some of their more experimental material here, and have begun working on new recordings.

The evening will kick off from Terran, a solo moniker for Madison-based guitarist Terrance Barrett. I mostly know Terrance from Carbon Bangle, a warped, many-textured psych-rock band previously named Ion. He’s also collaborated with Milwaukee-based producer (and Carbon Bangle member) Randal Bravery under the name Antilla Raid. Last year he put out a solo tape called Shame to explore his interests beyond guitar-centered rock music. The pieces on Shame range from eerie confessionals (“Shame Pt. 1”) to fractured synth-based instrumentals (“Palindrome”) to soulfully spaced-out guitar ensembles (“The Gallery Of Mixed Emotions”). His set here will be new to my ears and everyone else’s, but probably just as varied—Barrett says he views the Terran project as a chance to “experiment more with ambience, beats and retrograde electronic music.”

Don’t forget to also join us for the following shows (more announcements coming soon):

September 8: Tatsuya Nakatani Gong Orchestra. Art In, 8 p.m. $12 doors, $10 presale

September 17: Willy Street Fair Culture Stage presented by Tone Madison. Corner of Williamson and Ingersoll Streets, noon, free, all ages.

September 24: Come visit the Tone Madison table at Gear And Beer Fest at the East Side Club.

October 14: Matt Jencik, Matchess, Auscultation. Arts + Literature Laboratory, 8 p.m., all ages, $10, presale available

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