Rafael Toral Credit: Vera Marmelo

In Star Trek, space is the final frontier, but for Rafael Toral it’s just another step in an ongoing creative odyssey. The Portuguese electronic musician’s work has gone through several phases. Between 1994 and 2004 he released a series of records that dealt with continuous sounds, often generated using electric guitars and outboard effects. In 2006 he introduced the Space Program, in which he improvised with jazz-rooted rigor against a backdrop of silence, using electronic instruments that he either made himself or converted from commercial products such as toy amplifiers; with the modified instruments, Toral manipulated sine waves and feedback via physical gestures. Earlier this year Toral released Space Solo 2 (Staubgold) and declared the program over, but it seems he’s still building on its findings. He continues to call his solo concerts Space Studies, and he’s keeping up the associations he forged over the past decade with American improvisers, including Chicagoans Jim Baker and Steve Hunt. Since their first encounter in 2011, the trio have created a thrillingly combustive improvisational language that contrasts the voltage-­derived consonance of Baker’s synthesizer and Toral’s assorted devices with the restless acoustic clamor of Baker’s piano and Hunt’s drum kit. This is the first concert of Toral’s U.S. tour, and he’ll appear twice more in the area this month—on September 16 with reedist Mars Williams and drummer Tim Daisy at Northbrook Public Library, and on September 25 solo at Experimental Sound Studio.   v