Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

Kevin Carey

Water Memory


If you’re reading this and you’re under the age of 35, you probably spend a lot of time on the internet. Likewise, those who take interest in the small subset of music we like to bring you here also spend an inordinate amount of time connected to the internet. The moment we detach ourselves from our computers, we transition seamlessly into mobile internet through our phones. It’s a constant stream of stimulation unparalleled with anything humans have ever experienced.

Which makes it all the more fascinating how easy it is to take in. The ubiquity of smartphones is a recent (like, less than a decade) phenomenon, snapping out of mindless scrolling and realizing how much stuff you’re taking in without really processing it can be jarring.

Kevin Carey is an artist whose music seems uniquely primed for this experience. The Chicago-based producer swirls globs of pulsing UK instrumental grime à-la Gobstopper Records alongside throbbing bass and the watery, metallic sounds of avant-garde electronica permeating your Metacritic charts. His summer single “Water Qualm” remains one of the year’s most stunning tracks. It’s a violent blast of noise that sounds like the audible equivalent of a Gundam fighter wading through radioactive sludge.

His debut album for Zoology is called Water Memory and treads very similar territory, though there’s a distinct effort to mine the benefits of empty space to accentuate the high points. Album opener “Tun State (de Lok)” sounds like coming out of REM sleep, broad swells and fluttering samples interrupted by a vibrating cell phone. It becomes a theme throughout: pseudo-nature attempting to coexist with the inorganic.

“Space Heater” is the big club track here, a church hymn set to Earth-shaking percussion that flits from ear to ear. “Full Health” extends the spaces between kicks and claps for all they’re worth, layering an incredible palette of samples on top of one another during its endless build. Here, and on a lot of his work so far, Carey latches on to a specific pan flute sample that recalls the work of David Wise. That pan flute, originally used to make the Donkey Kong Country series of games feel more jungle-like, has found a home in instrumental grime music this year, Carey being one of its most deft adopters.

“Respawn” has a brief moment of joy, the intro featuring sparkling major-key bells over a 4-4 beat before the whole thing gasps and returns in an evil coda. “Detach (Isolation Tank)” can make your head spin, pitched vocals and swirling microsamples flying past like objects out a train window. A sleepy closer, “Night Cars,” transforms halfway through into a demonic ambient R&B remix that slowly melts into vapor.

Water Memory sounds like the culmination of a lot of different recent musical movements, not so much blended together but forced to coexist in a bubble. It’s a disorienting rush of ideas that, with repeated exposure, worm their way into your brain. Next time you catch yourself extremely logged in, give it a spin.

Water Memory is out now via Zoology.

Kevin Carey

"Space Heater"


A few months ago I wrote about “Water Qualm,” a phenomenal track by Chicago-based producer Kevin Carey. He’s since signed to a label, Zoology, and will release his debut album Water Memory on it next month.

The album’s first single is “Space Heater,” and treads similar territory to his last song. Sinister bass kicks float with skittering industrial percussion, a synthesized choir providing an eerie backup. Carey, like some of his contemporaries over at Gobstopper Records or Classical Trax, are subverting grime in a new and exciting way, incorporating elements of sci-fi liquefied for the club. “Space Heater” is one of the highlights of the scene so far, a pulsating, amorphous head rush of noise.

Gilligan Moss

"It Felt Right"

Gilligan Moss

#:-/ is the SoundCloud tag for Chicago producer Gilligan Moss‘s track “It Felt Right” (a preview from his upcoming EP Ceremonial), and it seems at first a little strange. With such a bouncy bass line and generally jaunty groove, wouldn’t a simple smiley face do? But it is the ambivalence of the track as it progresses, its dizzying piano line weaving around defensive, stubborn lyrics, that makes it so compelling. It is clear that there is more than one emotion going on here. In fact, there are so many, that :-/ may be the only way to capture them all in one swoop.

You can pre-order the Ceremonial EP on vinyl here.

Cole M. Johnson



Previously recording under the name Wih’lo, Chicago-based musician Cole M. Johnson has crafted something special with “Keeper,” his newest single, the B-side to “I Was Sinking Into Your Arms.” Nearly 9 minutes long, “Keeper” folds inward on itself through changing moods. The first third sinks otherworldly choral voices under a bath of lurching drone and soft keys. It drops out and leaves just the keys alongside Johnson’s voice, brutally honest lyrics akin to something you’d hear from someone like Mister Lies: “I don’t care if you think you’re funny.”

Eventually it clips into gear, a rapid drum beat wrapping around the same noise from the first half, hinting at a transcendent climax. But just as the groove feels comfortable, airy synth pads blow like a tornado over everything, wiping clean any remnants of melody or rhythm. It’s gorgeous in a pure musical sense; but also a glimpse of a songwriter who may be knocking down doors with more stunning music soon.


High Rule - "Touch"

High Rule_Touch

I’m a sucker for best friends making music together, and Chicago’s High Rule (Zelda reference, check!) is just that. Their debut single and video for ”Touch” is a modern and twisted love story wherein screens replace faces, texts replace conversations, and the technological disconnect can all too easily betray you. It’s a story that’s almost too easy to relate to these days.

And make sure to stick around for the end of the video.

Kevin Carey

"Water Qualm"


The absurdity of synthesized sounds (and humans) has been the focal point of many of my favorite albums of the past half-decade, and the intense focus that albums like R Plus Seven or Quarantine put on chintz and kitsch has only heightened the bar for self-awareness in musical performance. Irony is a theater of misdirection, and employing campy instrumentation is a tool used by some of its greatest actors of the past few years.

“Water Qualm” comes from Kevin Carey, a Chicago-based artist who crafts amorphous liquid rhythms out of industrial soundscapes, like a manufacturing plant melted down into a metallic lake. Shattered glass slices through pan pipes and a rolling, pulsating bass, the mechanized, clattering rhythm approaching something like Vektroid on poppers. Listen closely and you can hear gasps of breath, voices singing microsecond melodies, and a “Drop It Like It’s Hot” sample. It’s an understatement to call “Water Qualm” a journey. It feels more like a DMT trip—deceptively brief but monumentally affecting.


"The Shots"

Gawain_The Shots

Aaron Landgraf previously recorded under the name Ambassador Engine, and hasn’t released music in over three years. Reborn as Gawain, Aaron just released his latest effort Loyal on the amazing Patient Sounds imprint late last month. The album is a bedroom-produced narrative, each track telling more of the story, through both the music and Aaron’s soft and disarming vocals. You’ll see why he calls Gawain a “music and literary” project.

Hear Loyal here, and purchase the cassette via Patient Sounds.

Mister Lies

"Flood You"


Earlier yesterday morning, New York via Chicago producer Mister Lies unexpectedly unveiled two new standalone songs. It might not seem like a long time, but it’s been a over a year since Nick Zanca has released any new music, and that’s a lot longer when you consider the scope of music releases that accrue over a full year.

The new songs definitely fall in line with everything Zanca has released up to this point, but the singles are both enveloped under an entirely new vision. “Flood You” captures the producer’s growth since his last release as the track cycles through acoustic riff arrangements over obverse vocal samples and leads into the sullenly Thom Yorke-reminiscent “Medusa,” which uniquely features original vocals from Zanca himself.

Stream both tracks via Zanca’s Bandcamp.

Tink ft. Jeremih

"Don't Tell Nobody"


After the release of her impressive mixtape Winter’s Diary 2 earlier this year, R&B singer and rapper Tink is receiving attention that is both expected and deserved. As a result, we now get to hear her share a track with fellow Chicagoan Jeremih. “Don’t Tell Nobody” is a perversely jubilant jaunt through the perks and pitfalls of infidelity. Or, if you need a more concise hook to pique your interest, you can direct yourself to the tagline at the bottom of the song’s SoundCloud description: “Two words; summer smash.”