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Jonn Wallen of Oui Ennui made a torrent of genre-hopping albums while battling long COVID

In the past year or so, whenever a friend has asked me to recommend music, I’ve pointed them at Chicago multi-instrumentalist Jonn Wallen, who creates omnidirectional experimental electronic albums under the name Oui Ennui. A self-described hermit, he’d already spent decades making music largely in private and for his own satisfaction when COVID-19 hit. After […]

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Rapper-producer Namir Blade rockets into an Afrofuturist haze

Nashville rapper, multi-instrumentalist, and part-time extraterrestrial Namir Blade follows in the space wake of his beloved Sun Ra less through style than through vibes. His new self-produced album, Metropolis (Mello Music), gestures toward Afrofuturism in its woozy synths and hyper-modernistic cover art, but Blade is way too laid-back and into his own loopiness to construct […]

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Makaya McCraven doubly decodes Blue Note classics with Deciphering the Message live shows

Drummer Makaya McCraven has always been a bit of a rabble-rouser. He mixes audio from his live gigs with studio overdubs in intricately layered tracks that feel like jazz approached with a DJ’s sensibility. Like McCraven’s 2020 Gil Scott-Heron tribute, We’re New Again (XL Recordings), last year’s Deciphering the Message remixes snippets from a source […]

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In their second incarnation, Racetraitor find a progressive movement ready for their politics

After Chicago political hardcore powerhouse Racetraitor disbanded in 1999, a fog of legend grew in their wake. Motivated by their frustration at the bilious 2016 presidential campaign cycle and the fury and urgency of the burgeoning Black Lives Matter movement, the band reemerged with a fiery reunion a couple weeks before the election, but they […]

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Elastic Arts’ AfriClassical Futures series continues with the Honourable Elizabeth A. Baker

Since January 2020, vocalist Julian Otis and Elastic Arts executive director Adam Zanolini have programmed AfriClassical Futures, a series offering an antidote to the overwhelming whiteness and deadness of the classical canon. Each AfriClassical concert invites a Black artist working in or springboarding from the Western classical tradition for an intimate live performance and conversation, […]

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London label Touch brings its 40th-anniversary celebration to the International Museum of Surgical Science

London-based Touch isn’t a record label in the traditional sense; it’s far more multifaceted. It might be more accurate to describe Touch as a collective that also extends into publishing, performance curation, and site-specific multimedia events driven by a loosely defined stable of international avant-garde electronic and sound artists, who include guitarist and producer Fennesz, […]

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Adult. delve into grief and darkness on their latest album, Becoming Undone

It’s tempting to call Adult. electroclash; the synth duo of Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller debuted in 1998, coinciding with the style’s peak, and they’ve collaborated with notable groups in the genre such as Fischerspooner and Ladytron. But while the Detroit-based husband-and-wife team share some traits with the genre—particularly the way they pair an […]

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Gentle Heat make compact indie rock that feels huge

Chicago band Gentle Heat play no-nonsense indie rock that captures the allure of a towering blaze in the space of a single spark. On their new full-length, Sheer (Flesh & Bone), they pack dream-pop’s gauzy atmosphere into tidy, loud-quiet-loud tracks. The songs hit hard and move briskly, driven by sprocket-wheel rhythms, while retaining shoegaze’s heavenly […]