Music » Livewire

Rhys Chatham

With Brian Straw and DJ Krauty McKraut. Friday, February 2, at the Beachland.


Rhys Chatham had an epiphany in the '70s. After hearing the three-chord stomp of the Ramones, the avant-garde composer decided to cross minimalism with punk rock, eventually creating "Guitar Trio," a monumental piece that would go on to spark the no-wave scene as well as the atonal indie noise of Sonic Youth. Using just intonation (think guitars chanting like monks), Chatham's players begin strumming one after another, gradually building a dense, reverberating wall of overtones.

Over the years, Chatham has employed hundreds of different guitarists when performing "Guitar Trio" -- including 400 at one time. For his Cleveland gig, which includes visuals by artist Robert Longo, six local all-stars will join Chatham and guitarist David Daniell, including Fuzzhead's Michael Pultz, Chris Smith of Keelhaul, and Terminal Lovers' Dave Cintron, an axeman familiar with the outer limits of sound. "I've listened to quite a bit of minimalism over the years," he says. "I found out about him [Chatham] initially through his associations with La Monte Young and Glenn Branca." Cintron's enthusiasm for this "special tour that is so unique to each city" exemplifies what rock has gained from "Guitar Trio" -- one heavy chord heard 'round the world.

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