Posted inMusic

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 […]

Posted inMusic Review

Chicago experimental dance trio Purelink draw ecstasy from echoes on Puredub

As the trio Purelink, Chicago producers Millia Rage, Kindtree, and Concave Reflection explore the seams joining ambient music and dance. The tracks on Purelink’s 2021 Bliss/Swivel EP float like their rhythms are on the edge of dissolving (“Maintain the Bliss”) or transform the hyperactive sounds of drum ‘n’ bass into ghostly apparitions (“Head on a […]

Posted inMusic

Chicago power-ambient unit Chord spin heavy textures from a single progression on Imperfect Authentic Cadence

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 […]

Posted inMusic

Chicago ambient musician Andrew CS harnesses the tranquility of nature on his new EP

Multidisciplinary artist Andrew CS moved to Chicago from Rockton, Illinois, in the mid-2010s to study interaction design at Columbia College, and then began booking intimate Sunday DIY shows—but long before either of those things happened, he’d developed an interest in field recordings by playing indie video games. “The first mode of creation that I got […]

Posted inMusic

Harry James of Chandeliers draws from soul, jazz, and ambient on his solo debut

New Jersey native Harry James Brenner found his footing in Chicago’s music scene partly by playing in art-rock group Chandeliers; he joined in the mid-aughts as a percussionist, and he’s since played keys for them too. The sharply defined clatter of Brenner’s drums has kept Chandeliers’ mercurial instincts from running away with them, giving even […]

Posted inMusic

New York label Freedom to Spend ventures into the field with the compilation New Neighborhoods

You don’t have to know Ernest Hood’s 1975 album Neighborhoods to understand what’s going on in the new compilation New Neighborhoods, but it doesn’t hurt. Born in 1923, Hood was a Portland jazz musician who kept up with new recording and production techniques throughout his life, and in 1964 he cofounded the listener-supported Portland radio […]

Posted inMusic

Fetal Machine Music

Sigur Ros Agaetis Byrjun (Fat Cat) If we accept Brian Eno’s definition of ambient music (and if not his, then whose?) as music that rewards but doesn’t demand close attention, then I guess Sigur Ros is ambient. Their lush, majestic textures conjure pop maestros of the distant past (Brian Wilson, Phil Spector, Joe Meek) while […]