Nobukazu Takemura’s recent Sign (Thrill Jockey) isn’t a major addition to the Japanese composer’s discography: two of the four pieces have been previously issued on vinyl (albeit in slightly different versions), and the remainder of the EP doesn’t drift far from the playful melodic minimalism of last year’s Hoshi No Koe. But the centerpiece of the release–“Souvenir in Chicago,” a 35-minute collaboration recorded here in 1999 with Thrill Jockey fixtures Ken Brown, Douglas McCombs, and John McEntire–does offer a fascinating look at Takemura’s process. The piece unfolds leisurely, the three Chicagoans crafting a gentle melody reminiscent of their early days together in Tortoise. During the first third Takemura stays out of their way, caressing the melody with soothing organ swells and inserting squiggles and squelches here and there. But a dozen minutes in, the Chicagoans fade out, leaving only the groove. Takemura at first manipulates the instruments, then switches to a pure electronic translation, moving from fractured digitalia to tones that lengthen and begin to shape themselves into distinct melodic patterns. And in addition to being riveting, a lengthy animated cartoon by cover artist Katsura Moshino–a disturbing allegory about the evils of industrialization–actually serves to highlight some of the most interesting parts of the title track. Plaid, Mira Calix, and DJs Bob and Ray_Rod (see Post No Bills) also perform. Friday, March 22, 10 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.

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