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Monday, March 2, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 8.0° F  Fair
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Kevin Greenspon is a demure figure in experimental music
Pushing the boundary, quietly
Sonic density and humble melody.
Sonic density and humble melody.
Credit:Sarah Collins

Kevin Greenspon's body of work can be intimidating at first, given the mass of experimental electronic music he's released on dozens of cassettes and CD-Rs. The L.A. artist's individual pieces, though, tend toward the demure and remote. "Paradise A.D.," the title track of a free digital compilation, sums up Greenspon's overarching balance of sonic density and humble melody. Clean guitar and gentle swirls of melody condense for about three minutes. Then there's a brief pause, and the track snaps into a loud, sizzling chord. It's as if he stopped to collect his thoughts for an instant, then realized the song's several patiently developed elements could form a roaring whole.

But even that outburst doesn't last long. Greenspon seems less concerned with building mighty drones than with the simple factors - the nudge of a guitar's volume knob, the gradual trickling-together of a melody, and less frequently a circuit-grinding clod of feedback. He's so all-around unassuming that while listening to his music recently ahead of his Aug. 13 show at the Project Lodge, I almost didn't realize this was the soft-spoken guy who played a quiet set at Madison's Good Style Shop in March. Music in this vein tends to suggest a more imposing and mercurial personality.

Greenspon's latest release on his own Bridgetown Records label is a DVD, Folding Focus, that combines 10 recent songs with visuals from two video artists, Paul Skomsvold of Oakland and Matthieu Sery of Berlin. Greenspon will be incorporating the footage into his show at the Lodge. Skomsvold's video for Greenspon's "Maroon Bells" divides its frames into two panes of multicolored, multitextured fluid. It complements the moody abstraction in Greenspon's tune, but also its constant sense of movement and lilting rhythm.

"Most songs [I will be playing] are in the two- to four-minute range, and I'll string a few together into a suite for the finale," Greenspon said in an e-mail last week before starting the tour. He says he'll be using a bit of all the methods represented in his recorded output, from guitar to loops and cassette manipulation. "But," of course, "nothing too gaudy or fancy."

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