Offstrings: Inventions for Guitar


Artists Websites click photos 

David Daniell

    David Daniell is a composer and performer working in the intersections of acoustic and electronic instrumentation and of composition and improvisation. As a performer, Daniell utilizes acoustic, electric, and pedal steel guitar along with a variety of electronics.  He has worked for over a decade as a member of the improvising blues-drone trio San Agustin, along with many other collaborators through the years, including Loren Connors, Rhys Chatham, Tim Barnes, Ateleia, Jeph Jerman, Thurston Moore, Sean Meehan, Tomas Korber, Greg Davis and Jonathan Kane.  In addition to extensive solo performances, current active collaborations include a duo with Douglas McCombs (Brokeback, Tortoise), a trio with Christian Fennesz and Tony Buck (The Necks), and the quartet Apiary with Steven Hess (Pan American, Haptic, On), Jason Stein (Locksmith Isidore) and Joseph Clayton Mills (Haptic). 

    Daniell's compositional work utilizes displaced and abstracted field recordings juxtaposed with manipulated acoustic instruments and sounds of purely electronic origin, with great attention to sonic detail and aural depth-of-field, as captured in two solo albums, 2002's sem (Antiopic) and 2006's Coastal (Xeric/Table of the Elements).  Recent compositions have incorporated a variety of acoustic instruments in larger ensemble settings.  One such work, Sunfish (for twelve to fifteen musicians), was performed at the Fugue State Festival in Chicago (June 2007) and the X Avant Festival in Toronto (September 2007).  Recent recordings include the debut release of the Daniell/McCombs duo (on Thrill Jockey), two live releases, a release in Table of the Elements' 15th Anniversary Guitar Series, and a number of compilation appearances.  Upcoming releases for 2010 will include the debut release of the Fennesz/Daniell/Buck trio (Knoxville, Thrill Jockey) and a new album from San Agustin (Aquifer, Laboratory Standard Recordings).

Mark Shippy

    It might sound something like a scary film soundtrack that turns into a nice little deep space voyage through the multiverse.  Mark S (Mark Shippy) is a solo act that combines acoustic guitar, vocals, and background sound effects, (also sometimes adding personalized visual and light projections with live performance).  The music is a combination of finger-style guitar, psychedelic, and more experimental leanings, and themes range from odd storytelling to ethereal soundscapes, building up to a sci-fi wall of sound.

Mark has played in some notable Chicago bands, including eccentric noise outfits Snailboy (1988-1991) and Shorty (1991-1994), and the indefinable U.S. Maple (1994-present), and is currently in a spacegaze rock group called Miracle Condition, formed in 2006.  Mark has striven for unique guitar sounds throughout, attempting to create unconventional sounds and patterns by utilizing traditional approaches and adding elements of extreme physicality, whether it is bombastic, alien, bathyscaphic, intradimensional…….Mark just wants to create the most phantabuliscious sounds he can for any listener, hopefully bringing more hope and joy to the world through the mystery of sound. 

Mark S has been doing his solo act on select occasions for about nine years; it is a different atmospheric intensity than with any of the rock band scenarios, and he wants these rare live music experiences to be exceptionally special moments for those in attendance.

Travis Bird & Daniel Burke

We are focused on an integration of traditional musical methods and more abstract forms of expression, intending to create a space for the listeners' own personal narrative, stimulating access to private memories and emotions.

Through composition, performance and improvisation we explore the interactions between ourselves and the audience. Stylistically we pursue minimal ambient sound work, noise, and more familiar music through the use of stringed instruments, various objects, electronic devices, and location recordings.

Daniel Burke (b.1960) has been making experimental music in the Chicago area since 1983. He also works with photography, graphic design, and video. Initially inspired to manipulate sound by witnessing the final performances of Throbbing Gristle in 1981, he was the founding member of Illusion Of  Safety. His work continues to develop through a need to explore the nature of sound and a desire to subvert structure.

He works with diverse instrumentation including sampler, computer, synthesizer, field recordings, melodica, processing devices, guitar, and various small objects. Burke has collaborated with artists such as Jon Mueller, Randy Greif, Darin Gray, ZEV, CHEER-ACCIDENT, Jim O'Rourke, Thomas Dimuzio, Kevin Drumm, Ben Vida, and Jeff Jerman.

He has released over 25 full length records as Illusion Of Safety or with various collaborators. Performing  over 300 concerts since 1992 in Europe and North America, notable performances included No Fun 2005, and the Wroclaw Industrial music festival 2009. Due for release in 2010 on Chicago's New Ruins Records is Tertium Quid, an improvisation project Burke recorded with Bill Horist and Dave Abramson in Seattle. New projects in Chicago include a guitar duo with Travis Bird, and Twilight Furniture, a dark experimental pop project with Lorna Donley (DA!, Hip Deep Trilogy).

Travis Bird is a Chicago multi-instrumentalist.  His restlessness with the guitar has led him into improvised and nonmusical territory, at the same time that he develops a melodic style incorporating complex, extended harmonies, driving fingerstyle playing, and a fondness for incompleteness and repetition.  As a solo songwriter and as the drummer in the Leavitt Ours, his focus is on crafting thoughtful, harmonically rich songs that immerse the listener as deeply as possible.

Michael Vallera

    Michael Vallera is a visual artist and musician currently based out of Chicago, Illinois. His work in both arenas focuses on slowness and symmetry, creating sonic and visual spaces from discreet elements that interact and abstract over time. He has performed at art spaces and DIY venues across the country, including the Lincoln Center (as a part of Rhys Chatham’s guitar ensemble) and the Grand Rapids Art Museum. He received his MFA in sound from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the spring of 2010.

  Some guitar players immerse themselves in their instrument’s rich and varied traditions, while others exploit innovations of technique and technology to find new expressive possibilities. But regardless of whether they celebrate or subvert its iconic status, they’re gilding an aura that makes it ripe for use and abuse as a Duchampian found object. The five guitarists on Offstrings come to the instrument from both sides of the altar. While they can play like virtuosos, recontextualize familiar sounds, or come up with new ones, they know that these are means, not ends. They wield all of the sound-producing and conceptual qualities inherent in the Guitar to play the chords of human experience. They offer you a chance to listen.

Complacency Records CR201001

180 gram colored vinyl edition of 500 with digital download coupon

(1oo white vinyl, 100 translucent blue, 100 clear, 100 clear & translucent blue,

100 white & translucent blue)

File under:

Guitar, Ambient, Instrumental,

Drone, Experimental

Track listing & Sample MP3

  1. 1. Travis Bird & Daniel Burke “Breaking the Ice Before Winter Sets In”

  2. 2.Travis Bird & Daniel Burke: “Dark Matter”

  3. 3.Michael Vallera: “Arm Of The Sun”

  4. 4.David Daniell: “Strobe”

  5. 5.Mark Shippy: “x-Involucrant-x”

Complacency announces the first in a series of concerts & album releases focusing on new work for guitar. The first of these, presents five Chicago area guitarists.


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