Chris Brown

  • courtesy of Chris Brown
  • Chris Brown

On Thursday Chicago native Chris Brown (no, not that twerp), one of the most fascinating members of the Bay Area creative music scene, makes a rare trip home for a concert at Elastic. Few musicians so easily straddle the divide between improvised music and contemporary composition, but Brown has a knack for both—he’s a restlessly curious and adventurous explorer. Thursday’s event will find him representing both sides of his musical personality.

One of his primary areas of investigation has been processing live sounds with computers or networks of computers. On his album Talking Drum (a 2005 Pogus reissue of an album originally made for Sonore in 1999) Brown feeds field recordings (both street sounds and musical performances) made with binaural microphones in Cuba, Bali, Turkey, Philippines, the Netherlands, Canada, and the U.S. into a computer network that responds to the sounds. As Brown writes in the liner notes, “While the entire performance system is synchronized by one computer, each computer station generates independent results using genetic-programming algorithms which are affected by acoustic musicians’ performances.” It makes for serious headphone music, as if the listener were thrust into a specific, visceral sonic world in constant motion with ever-shifting dynamics and perspective. After the jump you can check out a track from the album: “Invention #1.” Headphones definitely recommended.