Whether Dutch vocal contortionist Jaap Blonk is diving into his own work or Kurt Schwitters’s Ursonate or works by fellow dadaists Hugo Ball and Tristan Tzara, Fluxus artist Dick Higgins, or postmod Robert Wilson, he performs the meaningless with utmost seriousness and intensity. There’s nothing worse than soggy nonsense, and Blonk knows it: his glottals and gutturals are full-body assaults and he’ll deliver a mere tidbit of text–for instance, the word “brullt,” which he repeats over and over as hard as possible at the end of his CD Flux de Bouche (Staalplaat)–until he literally can no longer speak. When he’s at work you’ll marvel at the sheer size of Blonk’s vocal cavity and his lung capacity, but also at his attention to inflection, detail, the patter of lip, tooth, and tongue. More recently Blonk’s loosed his prodigious voice on the world of free-improvised music, with excellent results. His latest record, Blonk, Gustafsson & Zerang (Kontrans), partners him with Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and Chicago’s own marvelous percussionist Michael Zerang, who dropped in on the session while touring Sweden. Other audio artists have made hopelessly stiff improvisers, but it turns out that Blonk can blow! He’ll perform two sets each night, one solo and one with a local celebrity: Friday he’ll match wits with guitarist, accordionist, electronics whiz, hurdy-gurdyist, and composer Jim O’Rourke; Saturday he’ll duet with Zerang. Both shows start at 8 PM. Randolph Street Gallery, 756 N. Milwaukee; 312-666-7737.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Arthur Nieuwenhujs.