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The overarching sensibility of the Sonic Circuits Festival Experimental Music Festival is easy to summarize—it celebrates out-there musicians and cutting-edge composers who have solid cred in one way or another—but no two editions of the festival ever seem to be the same. In 2011, the center of gravity was Silver Spring; this year it’s all about H Street NE, with the Atlas Performing Arts Center as the sole venue. Last year there weren’t as many big names, but the 2012 lineup has the Glenn Branca Ensemble led by the legendary guitar experimentalist, Chris Cutler (of Henry Cow) and David Thomas (of Pere Ubu and Rocket From the Tombs) performing together as Musique Noire, and a special performance by David Behrman (with an ensemble) of his hourlong piece “My Dear Siegfried,” which is based on correspondence between British poet Siegfried Sassoon and Behrman’s father, playwright S. N. Behrman. There are lots of renowned locals, too, included the freakout-geared Catoctin, featuring Jason Mullinax (Pilesar), Jeff Barsky (Insect Factory), and Chester Hawkins (Blue Sausage Infant). The festival presenters do a nice job of putting it all in context online. Start with soniccircuits.tumblr.com.
The Sonic Circuits Festival runs Sept. 28–30 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Free to $40 depending on performance. See a complete schedule at dc-soniccircuits.org.