Posted inMusic

The Reader’s guide to World Music Festival Chicago 2023

In July, I attended a community meeting at the Broadway Armory in Edgewater about the city’s plan to turn the Park District facility into a temporary shelter for asylum seekers. A group of protesters, angry that much of the armory’s programming would be relocated or otherwise disrupted, carried bright yellow signs reading “Don’t Displace Us.” […]

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Electro-industrial artist Debby Friday explores a world of emotion

Debby Friday kicks off the title track that opens her debut album, Good Luck (Sub Pop), with a fiery declaration: “Get it while it’s hot!” The Nigerian-born, Toronto-based artist sounds commanding atop the song’s lurching electro-industrial beats, but even as she confidently seizes our attention, there’s a sense that she’s tormented too. When she exclaims […]

Posted inFilm

Review: Pacifiction

Catalan filmmaker Albert Serra has spent his career untangling and reframing historical and literary figures as avenues to think about history, power, and the human condition. He created a minimalist, slow-cinema take on Don Quixote with 2006’s Honour of the Knights, invoked Casanova and Dracula in 2013’s Story of My Death, and looked to 18th […]

Posted inMusic Feature

Scent and sound

It’s been seven years since my group of intrepid friends decided to explore the world of perfumes. “If you take five minutes to research them,” my friend Sam explained, “you’ll find that they’re way more interesting and complex than you ever realized.” He was right, and before long, I bought a handful of perfume samples […]

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Brakence makes glitchy emo-pop that’s as confessional as it is inventive

Over the past few years, Randy Finell—the enigmatic 21-year-old Ohioan releasing music as Brakence—has avoided interviews and other press appearances while racking up tens of millions of streams. He lets his openly confessional music speak for itself. On “Fifthenigma,” a Soundcloud upload from 2016, he mixes samples and jittery beats under his warbling vocals, crafting […]

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Nour Mobarak’s works reveal the human voice’s many truths and possibilities

Nour Mobarak’s conceptual projects are intriguing on paper and thrilling in execution. For her 2019 debut album, Father Fugue (Recital), the Cairo-born, Los Angeles-based artist created a homey collage of voice recordings. Its first half includes conversations with her father, Jean Mobarak, who speaks several languages but is only capable of retaining memories for 30 […]

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Ben Zucker’s stirring compositions are built on a lifetime of musical curiosity

Born in Pennsylvania, Ben Zucker lived in Berkeley, New England, and London before moving to Chicago for a graduate composition program at Northwestern University. He was excited to come here to study because he’d been a longtime fan of the city’s rich, varied musical scenes, including the jazz stalwarts in the AACM and the adventurous […]

Posted inMusic

The Reader’s guide to World Music Festival Chicago 2022

The term “world music” has never been adequate to the task we’ve set it—even in its most benign reading, it implies a division between the listener and the rest of the world. And if that listener is in the United States, our country’s global hegemony in popular music colors the term’s meaning too.  Americans don’t […]