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Preview: The Kronos Quartet

Risk-taking group provides a stunning slate for the Redwood Arts Council.

By Gabe Meline

As if any further proof were needed that Kronos Quartet are the most cutting-edge string ensemble on the planet, the Bay Area–based collective have just announced the program for their upcoming Redwood Arts Council performance in Santa Rosa on Sept. 28, and holy hell, is it ever out of this world. When Thelonious Monk is the only household name on the list of the scheduled program's composers, it's a sure bet that Kronos will live up to the promise of "works without boundaries."

The globe-spanning lineup includes compositions by Xploding Plastix, a jazzy electrofunk duo from Norway; Aleksandra Vrebalov, a Serbian composer with an eastern European vision of musica universalis; and Indian saranghi master Ram Narayan, whose years of working in Bollywood lend a buoyant quality to interpretations of traditional ragas.

Along with Clint Mansell (whose Requiem for a Dream score is a timeless provocateur of chill) and an entry by current New York avant-gardist Scott Johnson, Kronos Quartet also delve into America's past with two seemingly opposite composers. Harry Partch hopped trains and utilized graffiti as libretto, while Raymond Scott's pioneering compositions are linked most in the public ear to classic Bugs Bunny cartoons. Both, however, designed and built their own instruments and toyed with musical forms with innovative vision.

More to the present day, there's the rock music of Mexico's Café Tacuba (arranged by noted Argentinean composer Osvaldo Golijov) and the blistering strangeness of Manhattan iconoclast John Zorn. But the program's most current composers are the reason the kids might be asking to tag along. Sigur Ros, a hip Icelandic band who sing in a language of their own design, are a perfect complement to Brazilian-born DJ Amon Tobin. Tobin's released seven albums of staggering sound mutations on renowned U.K. label Ninja Tune; his layering of disparate effects and polyrhythms tilts towards the cusp of a new language in the digital age.

And to think, the last time Kronos Quartet were here, 25 years ago, they were playing songs by moldy-fig composers like Jimi Hendrix! Don't miss the latest wave of the Bay Area's avant-garde jewel in a very special appearance on Friday, Sept., 28, at the Glaser Center. Their next area appearance is at the massive Shoreline with the massive Mr. Waits at the Bridge School Benefit.

547 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. 8pm. $10–$25. 707.874.1124.

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