Chord Credit: Damien Neva

Chicago power-ambient unit Chord find their art in small details; for more than a decade they’ve been exploring a single chord in each of their compositions, wringing every bit of depth, power, and resonance out of it. Their new fourth LP, Imperfect Authentic Cadence (Debacle), concerns a common progression that’s been baked into Western music since at least the 17th century: the V-I cadence. Also known as an authentic cadence, it moves from the dominant to the tonic and creates a strong sense of resolution. The new album enacts such a shift, albeit imperfectly (hence the title). In their press materials, the band explain that the harmonic structure of its three pieces demonstrates “the intrinsic directionality” of tonal music—that is, “the idea that certain notes in certain contexts have an innate sense of direction, a longing to move somewhere specific.” Thankfully, you don’t need to understand the music theory driving Imperfect Authentic Cadence in order to get lost in Chord’s rhapsodic, glacial sonic expeditions. “G9/11sus(b2)/F” is the band’s first piece to include a chord change, and its molecular-level shifts happen gradually enough to make you feel like the proverbial frog in a pot of water set to boil. They land the transition precisely, and their heavy, atmospheric composition feels like it can literally change the weather. Chord’s practice of unpacking every last shift and interval in a single cadence feels borderline spiritual—especially in the way it transforms time, so that its most drawn-out processes seem to fly past.   v