Cleric released their second album, Retrocausal, in December. Credit: Nick Shellenberger

A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.

Philip Montoro, Reader music editor

Mirrors for Psychic Warfare This duo is also half of industrial supergroup Corrections House: Neurosis cofounder Scott Kelly (guitar, vocals) and metal producer Sanford Parker (boxes with blinky lights). The fractal architecture of Parker’s cybernetic stomp and the warm, weary soul of Kelly’s weathered voice blend like oil and vinegar—that is, not at all, but they work a wonderful alchemy anyway.

6 Shot, “Itz Ya Dog” Local rap writer David Drake posted this 2001 track in a recent Twitter thread on New Orleans producer KLC, formerly of No Limit Records’ Beats by the Pound. I love the funky bustle and nasty swing in its body-rocking drums and the swagger in its fat ersatz horns. The intro will get you nodding, but you might still end up hunting for the bar line the first time the beat drops. That disorientation, when your brain tries to hang on to a rhythm that’s just become “wrong,” is one of my favorite musical experiences.

Cleric, Retrocausal When this Philly four-piece released its previous full-length, 2010’s Regressions, I was so confounded by its collage of elastic noise and hypercube math-­metal that I wrote 1,200 words trying to explain it. Retrocausal came out in December, and I’ve had fun watching newer writers grapple with Cleric’s mix of bestial fury, jazzy sass, creepy ambience, and eight-dimensional convolution, which is so divorced from conventional structures that parsing it is like trying to memorize Finnegans Wake. These maniacs must’ve learned to use the evil puzzle box from Hellraiser as a musical instrument.

Philip is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .

Beverly “Guitar” Watkins in the Instagram feed of She Shreds Magazine, which is posting a different black woman guitarist every day of Black History MonthCredit: Kelley Raye

Tasha, singer and poet

The She Shreds Instagram feed One more thing to add to the wonder that is Black History Month 2018: She Shreds Magazine, the only print publication dedicated exclusively to women guitarists and bassists, is featuring a different black woman guitarist on its Instagram feed every day in February. As a young black guitar-playing woman, I don’t often see musicians who look and sound like me, and She Shreds fills in that missing lineage stunningly. The women who’ve been featured so far are incredible—so while it’s not surprising that their names and faces are continuously left out of music history, it’s such a tragedy.

Dizzy Fae, “Johnny Bravo” I first discovered Dizzy Fae my senior year in college in a small town in Minnesota, listening to Twin Cities radio station the Current. I was enamored with her ethereal black-girl musical prowess and confident persona. On February 2 she released her debut mixtape, Free Form, on Soundcloud, and though the entire project is a banger, breakout single “Johnny Bravo” is the dance-pop Prince-infused jam that will get you through these remaining throes of winter.

Solange’s Black Cab Sessions performance of “Bad Girls” This is my favorite version of one of my favorite Solange songs. I’m a sucker for casual, stripped-back, acoustic YouTube sessions, and this one is hypnotizing in its playfulness and simple magic. I come back to this again and again when I want to remind myself what it means to be soft and full of soul. Also I think that’s Dev Hynes on the guitar? Dream duo.

Tasha is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .

Sen Morimoto, a Chicago multi-instrumentalist, singer, and rapper who produces his own musicCredit: Kaina Castillo

Kamaria Woods, musician, singer, and producer

Artists who produce their own music I’m really inspired by local artists of color who produce their own music—including Loona Dae (singer, songwriter, producer), Yadda Yadda (singer, rapper, bassist, composer, producer), and Sen Morimoto (multi-instrumentalist, singer, rapper, producer). Hearing work written, performed, and produced by the same person is such a powerful and intimate experience—especially during live performances! These folks are so incredibly multitalented, and it’s mesmerizing and motivating to see them connect to their work in such an engaged and confidently vulnerable way.

Guitar technique I’m drawn to acoustic guitar playing that uses the body of the instrument for percussion. Peter Collins and Fatai play like this a lot. They and Melanie Faye are my guitar-style icons right now. When I was growing up, my mom would play guitar every day, and these artists have a rhythmic, melodic style that’s really nostalgic for me.

Georgia Anne Muldrow Georgia Anne Muldrow is one of my greatest inspirations. She’s a producer, singer, musician, collaborator, motivator, and just everything good in life. Her songs—odes to blackness, to us and our resilience, to nature, to patience and healing—are lessons, guides, shared blessings. “Requiem for Leroy” was the first song of hers I heard. Everything she creates feels so comfortably and unapologetically her. She’s basically the light of my life. Top five songs, in no order: “Because,” “Keep It Real,” “Child of the Sun,” “Demise,” and “Never in Vain.”

Philip Montoro

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid and another in 2021 for Leor Galil's history of Neo, and he’s also split three national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and two (in 2020 and 2022) for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. Philip has played scrap metal in Lozenge, drummed with the Disasters, the Afflictions, and Brilliant Pebbles, and sung for the White Outs. He wrote the column Beer and Metal from 2012 till 2015, and hopes to do so again one day. You can also follow him on Twitter.