There’s a strain of grim expressionist satire in the music of Hans Koch and Martin Schutz: new-age music grows vicious and nasty, minimalism turns frighteningly maxi, modern musical conventions turn inside out–if you’re suspicious of the Age of Aquarius and the New World Order, this pair from Switzerland may be just for you. They play free improvisation on a very high level indeed, framed by long, ingenius jazz themes or set upon classical music elements or strange rock beats. Their interplay is vivid, often contradictory, and always responsive. Koch plays bass clarinet and soprano and tenor saxes, in strained lines, often atonally or in his horn’s freak registers; Schutz plays an electric five-string cello in a swinging counterpoint, in grumbles, mumbles, and accusations, or in post-Jimi Hendrix rock guitar lines. Their structures are spontaneous, the music flowing into dramatic shapes with all kinds of role reversals; sometimes the result is cartoonlike, but more typically it’s darkly shaded, or a trip into distant abstraction. The long-experienced Fredy Studer is their drummer these days, and they’re making only two stops on this North American journey, one in Chicago and one at Victoriaville, Quebec’s prestigious improvised-music festival. Saturday, 8 PM, Southend, 1313 S. Wabash; 939-2848.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Alessandro della Valle.