Damon Locks (back row, fourth from left) with the Black Monument Ensemble at Garfield Park Conservatory in November 2018 Credit: Daris Jasper

The ambitious 2019 debut of Damon Locks’s Black Monument Ensemble, Where Future Unfolds, was one of the best Chicago albums not just from the past year but from the past decade. Last week, the collective dropped the single “Stay Beautiful,” recorded live at the Garfield Park Conservatory during Red Bull’s 2018 Chicago festival. Scrappers Film Group made a video using intimate performance footage from that show: it opens with a monologue from Locks, in the voice of a vulnerable patient alone in a hospital who finds solace in an anonymous message of hope, and ends with clips of ensemble members at home with friends and family, thriving during the shelter-in-place order. The song’s message of resilience and mutual support takes on new urgency and power during this pandemic.

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Gossip Wolf has been thirsty for a full-length from self-described “bohemian electronics” project Sip, masterminded by Jimmy Lacy from Black Math and Population, ever since the tasty, transcendent Lumpen Radio session Live on Planet CatieO dropped via Eye Vybe Records in late 2018. On Friday, April 24, eternally cool Los Angeles label Not Not Fun finally releases Sip’s studio debut, Leos Naturals. Like Lacy’s gently mind-expanding live sets, tracks such as “Amitabul” bubble with peaceful psychedelic energy—imagine the mellowest moments of Manuel Göttsching’s classic Inventions for Electric Guitar dappled with California sunshine.

Anonymous local darkwave duo None of Your Concern hide their faces behind uncanny faceted metallic masks, which makes figuring out who crafts these propulsive jams some real Scooby-Doo business! Earlier this month, the duo dropped “Cinnamon,” a hurtling comet of bopping EBM that will appear on their debut album, Primer, which arrives Friday, April 24. Their release show at Sleeping Village with Wingtips and Panic Priest has been moved from Friday, May 1, to Friday, October 9.  v

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