Pamela Z

Though Pamela Z needs a mountain of electronic equipment to create her technologically overwhelming performance pieces, in many ways she speaks in the most primeval of languages. Standing alone onstage wearing a BodySynth–which allows wireless sensors to translate muscle movements into sound–she unleashes an echoing boom with a sweep of the arm, a soft whisper with a shoulder roll. Using an array of digital delays, found percussion instruments, and a sampler, she dances, sings, and writhes through her own richly orchestrated creations, accompanying her operatic voice with the sounds of industrial machinery, passing traffic, or nonsensical chatter. But no matter how thickly layered her sonic experiments, no matter how futuristic her acoustic palette, Z’s work retains a simple, even ancient feel. Her elementary harmonics and chantlike repetitions recall medieval liturgical music, and her cryptic utterances, which warp vowels almost beyond recognition, suggest the kind of groping vocalizations humans might have attempted before they had words. This startling juxtaposition of the ancient and the cutting edge accounts for much of the appeal of this San Francisco artist, appearing at the Third Annual Spring Equinox Concert sponsored by the interdisciplinary arts department at Columbia College and the Experimental Sound Studio. Columbia College Chicago, Music Building Recital Hall, 1014 S. Michigan, 312-344-7270. Friday, March 24, 8 PM. $15.

–Justin Hayford

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