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Arc Mountain is the underground-label collaboration you’ve been waiting for

Like doesn’t necessarily breed like—just ask all the friends for whom I’ve tried (and failed) to play cupid. But similarity is bliss for underground labels Deathbomb Arc and Hausu Mountain, which collaborated to release the compilation Arc Mountain on May 7. Based respectively in Los Angeles and Chicago, these eclectic, irreverent labels might be separated […]

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Carlos Niño and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson showcase their telepathic collaboration on the hushed Chicago Waves

In 2005, Los Angeles percussionist, DJ, arranger, and producer Carlos Niño began collaborating with fellow Angeleno Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and music director. That year, Atwood-Ferguson joined Niño’s expansive soul-jazz collective, Build an Ark, and helped record studio albums by two of Niño’s other projects: With Voices, the final full-length from progressive hip-hop production […]

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Julianna Barwick builds a paradise of her own design with Healing Is a Miracle

While wounds can be stitched and broken bones may mend, other types of injuries never fully heal; perhaps they linger as phantom pain or burrow deep into the brain’s pathways. It’s these imperceptible traumas—and the impossibility of recovery—that consume Julianna Barwick on her new fourth solo album, Healing Is a Miracle. The Los Angeles-based composer […]

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Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith creates a mosaic of electricity on The Mosaic of Transformation

It’s a struggle to define the purpose of most music—the answer is perpetually changing, based on time, place, and innumerable other factors. But Los Angeles-based synthesist Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith seems to have homed in on something specific on her new album, The Mosaic of Transformation (Ghostly). The joyous, drifting melody of “Remembering,” the album’s second […]

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Kris Esfandiari of King Woman and producer Darcy Baylis combine forces in Sugar High

Kris Esfandiari is no stranger to side projects. Since cofounding doom-metal band King Woman in 2009, she’s released solo material under the names Miserable, Kris, Dalmatian, and Nghtcrwler. Her latest project, Sugar High, is a collaboration with Berlin-based songwriter and producer Darcy Baylis, whose credits include recordings by Wicca Phase Springs Eternal and Camp Cope […]

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Celebrated guitarist Jeff Parker builds electrifying jazz songs out of experimental demos on Suite for Max Brown

Chicago music remains interesting and vital partly because of how local subcultures overlap and intersect. The city has plenty of tight communities of musicians focused on specific sounds, but the borders around those communities are porous; improvising multi-instrumentalists collaborate with rappers, hip-hop producers take in jazz gigs, and rock musicians immerse themselves in hardware-centric underground […]