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Booed Music

What’s up with avant-garde music

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Before he moved to Providence, R.I., for graduate school a few years back, performance artist Ric Royer (pictured) honed his gift for orchestrating potentially awkward social situations—whether it was the anything-goes shows he booked at the LOF/T or his own performances—which hovered in the general vicinity of the monologue and the lecture, and then slowly veered into the strange and queasy. Recently he’s been working on what he calls the Coincidental Hour, which combines the look/format of a game show/musical performance with the psychological gamesmanship of Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiments. Royer brings this latest dose of WTF to the 14 Karat Cabaret (the14karatcabaret.org) Feb. 19 with Olivia Sea Turtle (performance artist Virginia Warwick), Wham City comedian Alan Resnick, and music from Matmos’ Martin Schmidt.

Ehse Records gets off to a solid start in 2014 with a new cassette from Marcel Du Swamp, the musical alter ego of local beatmaker/synth manipulator Chris Shields. The seven-track Exact Cover Problem feels like the soundtrack to a futuristic post-industrial absurdist comedy, a 1980s remake of Total Recall starring John Candy and directed by Jim Jarmusch. “Theme for Howard Garns” and “Theme for Howard Garns 2” are exactly the sort of uptight but wiggly, 8-bit funk that comes to mind when thinking about a movie scene starring the man who created Sudoku, while “NP-Compatible” builds a pulse out of a stuttering weave of synth tones. Cassette standout “Set” is seven minutes of rustling electronic textures underscoring a slurred vocal growl, and despite sounding like a computer processing its last bytes, it’s a surprisingly ebullient ride, finishing in a distorted buzz bouncing between left and right channels. A disarmingly fun listen throughout. Marcel Du Swamp plays a release show Feb. 23 at the Bank.

The Red Room Collective has jam-packed its February and March with Bhob Rainy, the duo Steerage, and Bonnie Jones Feb. 15.; Greg Fox touring behind his new Mitral Transmission Feb. 20, with Twig Harper and Carly Ptak and Michael Scott-Nelson; and Graham Harman lecturing on H.P. Lovecraft Feb. 22. But highlight March 15 on the calendar, when Tough Day Tubing stops by. That’s a quartet of drummer Walter Wright, reeds player Steve Norton, and human wild cards Crank Sturgeon and Al Margolis.

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