Since 2015, Experimental Sound Studio has been intermittently hosting a weekly music salon called Option, where a who’s who of musicians and composers from Chicago and abroad—among them William Parker, Magda Mayas, Angel Bat Dawid, Paul Lytton, and Zeena Parkins—perform live and then sit for interviews with series curators Ken Vandermark, Tim Daisy, and Andrew Clinkman. ESS has long maintained an extensive archive of Option sets and conversations on its YouTube page, and it swiftly adapted to COVID-19 by moving the series online—each event is streamed, often live, and then added to the archive. Option has been paused since October, but on Monday, March 1, it kicks off its spring 2021 season with a performance by former Chicagoan Jim O’Rourke, who’s now based in Japan; afterward he’ll talk with Vandermark. Upcoming guests include New York improviser and composer Gabby Fluke-Mogul (March 15) and Massachusetts musician and sound artist Adam Kohl, aka ARKM Foam (March 22). Option is free to watch via Twitch and YouTube, but ESS strongly encourages a donation of at least $5—all money goes to the performers.
Chicago rapper Saint Ripley got this Wolf’s attention last year with the punk-inflected EP Girls. On Sunday he dropped his second full-length, God Complex, and he’s leveled up: his acerbic cadences and gutsy soul cut through the album’s instrumentals, whether they’re gentle and reflective or sound like beats for pumping iron. Ripley recruited a few great locals as guests, including Gossip Wolf favorites Qari and Ajani Jones, who both add their voices to the album, and its tracks leap in style from one to the next, making room for prodigious record scratching and tasteful rap-rock.
Last week, Uptown rapper and singer Osa North self-released an EP called The Fall Off. North has been an Afrobeat evangelist since living with relatives in Nigeria for five years as a kid, but he’s also fluent in terrifically sweet pop melodies that can make anyone with a pulse dance—and on The Fall Off he adds another, darker color to his palette, baring his teeth while rapping about his inevitable success on “King of Ringz.” His best work still borrows Afrobeat’s alchemical rhythms and effervescent melodies, though, and the horn-speckled “Kiss Your Hand” overflows with both. v
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