Laurie Anderson tells great stories. Yeah, she’s also a musician, inventor, performance artist, sculptor, and painter, but strange narratives that employ humor, symbolism, and allegory remain central to her work. Her new composition, Scenes From My New Novel, is filled with sonic bon mots: A collaboration with the venerable experimental ensemble Kronos Quartet, the work focuses on text that got turned into music with the help of Wordjam, a custom-built software program. Despite her early ’80s successes with the songs “O Superman” and “Sharkey’s Day,” Anderson’s strength has always been in performance. Her multimedia stage shows, wild dancing, and voice that soars whether singing or speaking—be it au naturel or treated heavily with electronics—are immensely captivating. But even without the ecstatic shimmying, grand visuals, and musical freakiness, Anderson’s cultural critiques, weird tales, and avant poetry stand on their own.
Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet perform at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, Stadium Drive and Route 193, College Park. $40–$50. A talkback with the artists follows Friday’s performance. (301) 405-2787. claricesmithcenter.umd.edu.