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Lou Reed chat and sonic installation coming to Cal State Long Beach

March 16, 2011 |  7:00 pm

LouReed2008Lori The Carpenter Performing Arts Center at Cal State Long Beach and the university's Art Museum will take a walk on the wild side early next year by featuring rocker Lou Reed as a conversationalist and an avant-garde musician.

The 2011-12 season at the Carpenter Center being announced on Wednesday also includes more traditional fare, including Shirley MacLaine in a Sept. 24 speaking engagement and Broadway veterans Davis Gaines (Sept. 21-22), Rachel York (Feb. 29-March 1, 2012) and Susan Egan (May 6, 2012) as singing headliners.

Whether Reed will do any singing or guitar playing is questionable, since his Jan. 27, 2012 appearance is billed as an “in conversation” evening with Bob Ezrin, who produced Reed’s 1973 album “Berlin,” a semi-narrative piece so laden with despair and degradation that it’s one of rock’s deepest and most sublime downer experiences. Ezrin played a key role in launching rock-as-a-theatrical-spectacle, producing 1970s albums by Alice Cooper, KISS, Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and the debut solo release of theatrically innovative rocker Peter Gabriel.

Adding to the intrigue: In recent years Reed has been revisiting his 1975 album “Metal Machine Music,” four LP sides of whining, grinding electronic noise that’s celebrated in some quarters as a visionary and influential sally into the avant-garde and condemned in others as a sick, nose-thumbing, temporarily career-stalling joke on his rock audience at a time when Reed’s popularity was at a peak. 


His conversational duet with Ezrin coincides with the opening of a world premiere installation at the University Art Museum. It's billed as an “Ambisonic 3-D soundscape” of “The Creation of the Universe,” an instrumental piece by the Metal Machine Trio (video above), which includes Reed on guitar and Ulrich Krieger, a CalArts professor who has transcribed "Metal Machine Music" for strings, winds and other non-electronic instruments, on saxophone. The trio recorded "Creation" during a 2008 stand at REDCAT and Reed sells it on his website.

Other highlights of the Carpenter Center season include singer Perla Batalla (Dec. 14-15); Aquila Theatre’s touring production of Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” (March 31, 2012); dance programs from Momix (Nov. 19-20), Ballet Maribor (Oct. 15), Doug Varone and Dancers (Feb. 4, 2012) and Ballet Memphis (May 12, 2012); music from brass quintet Metales M5 (Nov. 26), the T.S. Monk Sextet (March 16, 2012) and DJ Paul Oakenfold with the university’s Bob Cole Conservatory Orchestra (Oct. 21-22).


Lou Reed and Ulrich Krieger: 'Unclassified' at REDCAT

-- Mike Boehm

Photo: Lou Reed performing at REDCAT in 2008. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times