What's up with avant-garde and experimental

Since releasing her Hukam debut (Ehse) in 2011, sitarist/vocalist Ami Dang (pictured, left, with her drummer Kate Levitt) has steadily grown as a genre-bending producer and songwriter. She strings her songs along through haunting, percussive loops and sitar lines that are convoluted enough to seduce ears that crush on extended drones while her melodies are pop-sticky enough for radio. She hopes to release a new album in 2013; in the meantime, her band will be hitting Asia in March with Grimes, aka Canada's Claire Boucher, who makes her own brand of genre-defying electronic treats. Dang and Levitt will be joined by bassist Zachary Christensen when the Ami Dang Trio plays Coward Shoe Jan. 11, opening for Nautical Almanac, making its first live appearance in a couple of months-and who might still have a few copies of Fuzzy Genes, the limited-edition rectangular picture disc LP it self-released in August, available at heresee.com. DJ Asa Osborne provides the pre- and between-set ear candy.

Speaking of the former Lungfish guitarist, Asa Osborne's transfixing solo project Zomes hits Floristree Jan. 18 as part of a potent lineup featuring hard-rocking local trio Witch Hat (whose recent Destination: Excellence cassette is worth picking up), local duo Curse (whose self-titled debut remains a great dark-alley beatdown), and Buck Gooter, whose just-released Witch Molecules LP features a spiraling emergency-cone orange design courtesy of Osborne. Buck Gooter is a duo from Harrisonburg, Va., who sounds like the Flat Duo Jets after being exposed to the Haters. Solid.

Circle existed for barely a year, in the early 1970s, an avant-jazz outfit featuring Chick Corea and Dave Holland, both fresh out of Miles Davis electric groups, and a then up-and-coming Chicago reeds player by the name of Anthony Braxton. The drummer for these wiggy sets was Barry Altschul, who brings his Freedom Three, featuring bassist Joe Fonda and saxophonist Jon Irabagon, to the Windup Space Jan. 13 to celebrate his 70th birthday as part of Bernard Lyons' Creative Differences series. The following week, the Whammies-an all-star sextet that includes trombonist Jeb Bishop, drummer Han Bennink, and violinist Mary Oliver-play the music of Steve Lacy Jan. 19. And kicking the month off on Jan. 6 is Thumbscrew, a brain-scrambling trio of local bassist Michael Formanek, New York drummer Tomas Fujiwara, and guitar god Mary Halvorson.

Finally, to call saxophonist Jack Wright a cornerstone of underground improvised music for the past three decades undersells his role as a free-music inspiration, and he returns to Baltimore Jan. 5 to collaborate with electronics improviser Bob Falesch at the Red Room at Normal's Books and Records; the duo of electronics improvisers Andrea Pensado and Walter Wright also performs.

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