The Seattle Improvised Music Festival, a forum for musical experimentation in extremis, reaches the ripe old age of 25.

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We can’t tell you exactly what it’s going to be like — because, hey, it’s all improvised!

But the 25th Anniversary Seattle Improvised Music Festival (SIMF) does promise to be an international affair.

And if that quarter-century mark makes you think “venerable” and therefore comfortable, be forewarned. A quick tour of the performers’ Web sites and MySpace pages suggests the sounds these folks will make land right on the border between music and noise.

The festival describes itself as “an annual meeting place for improvisers at the forefront of the music from around the world.”

This year, festival founder Paul Hoskin helps curate some of the shows, along with former festival organizer Wally Shoup and current Seattle Improvised Music director Gust Burns, who’s been running things since 2001.

Starting tonight, performers from Germany; Argentina; New York City; Vancouver, B.C.; Seattle; and other locales will be playing in four Seattle venues: Skinner Auditorium, 1245 10th Ave. E. (Thursday); Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave. (Friday-Saturday and Feb. 19-20); Gallery 1412, 1412 18th Ave. (Sunday); and the Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W. (Feb. 18).

Ticket prices vary. Go to for more information.

Michael Upchurch: