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In these ambiguous post-rock, post-techno days, music your parents used to call avant-garde—you know: Stockhausen, Partch, Braxton—is now being served up to indie rockers without any of that messy atonality. Used to be you couldn’t brush your teeth without hearing a new band molesting Slint-style dynamics; nowadays, it seems like everybody (or at least everyone from Chicago) has a vibraphone or an old analog synth. It’s all about texture. Exhibit A: L’altra (pictured). On Music of a Sinking Occasion, this quartet adorns melancholy pop with coronet, cello, accordion, and (yes) vibraphone. Despite the de rigueur jazz/classical instrumentation and occasional indeterminate rhythms, L’altra’s nonurgent music makes the most sense contextualized in the singer-songwriter tradition (think Ida). Exhibit B: Pulseprogramming. Whereas L’altra’s very existence seems predicated upon evoking an emotional response, Pulseprogramming’s music is almost anti-emotional. In the tradition of proto-ambient krautrockers such as Cluster and Popol Vuh, Pulseprogramming generates beatless instrumental soundscapes that practically beg to fill an unscored flick. In Pulseprogramming’s austere, airless world, sine waves drift and synth bleeps bounce off the digital perimeters. Although they don’t sound much alike, both of these bands make music as chilly as the Windy City from where they come. Catch the cold with Oswego at 9 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17, at the Black Cat, 1831 14th St. NW. $5 (202) 667-7960. (Brent Burton)