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Jordan Reyes blends ritual, electronics, and western vibes on Sand Like Stardust

From the first wordless vocal incantation on “The Pre-Dawn Light,” which opens Jordan Reyes’s new Sand Like Stardust, it’s clear you’re about to embark on an auditory vision quest; as the Chicago multi-instrumentalist and vocalist slowly adds layers of chants at different pitches, the sound evokes a sunrise ritual. In the album’s promotional materials, Reyes […]

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Ben Baker Billington’s Quicksails builds whole worlds from serene synths

Many prolific musicians call Chicago home, but multi-instrumentalist Ben Baker Billington is a veritable Energizer Bunny. He’s been contributing otherworldly experimental sounds to the scene since his mid-aughts stint in noise project Druids of Huge, and his musical resumé is too long to reproduce in full here. Any outre artist looking for an open-minded collaborator […]

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Chicago industrial trio Civic Center streamline their surreal sound on The Ground Below

Local postpunk label Chicago Research quickly became a locus for bizarre, depraved sounds after launching in February 2019, in part because the people involved are longtime friends as well as like-minded musicians. Industrial surrealists Civic Center put out one of the label’s first releases (a cassette called A Place for the Weak), and all three […]

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Legendary Chicago experimentalists Ono confront centuries of race-based violence on the transformative Red Summer

I could write a novel about Ono. This Chicago avant-garde group are one of the great bands, and their story is endlessly fascinating. Few groups that had their heyday in the 80s have come back in the late aughts sounding completely rejuvenated and vital. Most important, they’ve continued to progress, honing their wild experimentation into […]