In an interview last year with the Web zine Perfect Sound Forever, Chicago composer and cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm characterized himself as a “basic research kind of guy”–he’s as excited by the process of working with musicians as he is by the results. That philosophy is especially evident in his Lightbox Orchestra, where he conducts mostly ad hoc groups of improvisers with a box of colored lights coded to tell different players when to start or stop. He also uses a set of cue cards with directions that are sometimes concrete (high, low, loud, soft) and sometimes designed to provoke free association (a drawing of a chicken). The music on the second side of last year’s vinyl-only Two Lightboxes (Locust), culled from a 2000 Munich performance, moves with unassailable logic between tumultuous, agitated passages and dignified, bluesy ones. On one track from the group’s first studio release, Instant Landscape (Terry Plumming), rustling strings lapse into several minutes of tense silence–the session must have been one hell of a staring contest. Most of the 13 players on Instant Landscape are expected for this show, which celebrates the album’s release. Soft Serve and Rotten Milk vs. Bubblegum Shitface open. Lonberg-Holm also plays Thursday at Heaven Gallery in a duo with Peter Brotzmann (see Friday). Mon 1/10, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499. Free.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.