- Doug Kaplan
- Damiana: Whitney Johnson (aka Matchess) and Natalie Chami (aka TALsounds)
Natalie Chami (aka TALsounds) and Whitney Johnson (aka Matchess) have been pillars of the city's avant-garde electronic music scene for years, crafting elegantly droning ambient music on their own and engaging in thoughtful collaborations with other local artists. (Chami is also one-third of impressively far-out trio Good Willsmith, and Johnson has collaborated with the likes of Tortoise, Circuit des Yeux, and Bitchin Bajas.) Over the past few years, they've periodically joined forces onstage as the duo Damiana, and they've stolen pretty much every show Gossip Wolf has seen them play—in 2019, they opened for Meg Baird and Mary Lattimore at the Hideout and for Thou with Emma Ruth Rundle at Subterranean, and they were the best set both nights. On Friday, July 16, they'll drop Damania's debut album, Vines, via Chicago label Hausu Mountain, and it's certainly worth the wait—on "Sunken Lupine," for instance, Chami and Johnson mix subtle percussion, gentle electronics, and their swirling paired vocals into a cloud of lush, otherworldly atmospheres. The LP (with artwork by HIDE's Heather Gabel) comes in an edition of 100 copies on clear vinyl, as well as in a regular black version and as a download; all are available via the Hausu Mountain Bandcamp page.
On July 1, hip-hop culture organization Chi-ROCK Nation opened a monthlong exhibit celebrating the 18th Chicago Hip-Hop Heritage Month. The exhibit takes up two floors of a greystone house at 4505 S. Indiana in Grand Boulevard, and according to Chi-ROCK president Darrell "Artistic" Roberts, it grew out of plans for a fundraising campaign for the organization. Chi-ROCK Nation was founded in 1985, when the city's hip-hop culture was in its infancy, and this pop-up museum documents its growth with vinyl records, cassette tapes, vintage publications, and excerpts from Roberts's forthcoming book series. Roberts and his collaborators—including foundational Chicago hip-hop figure Rico Sanders Sr., aka Kingdom Rock—are letting the exhibit evolve during its run, updating its contents as veterans visit and volunteer their stories. It's already attracted the likes of funk superhero Captain Sky, rapper DA Smart, and Ray Barney of Barney's Records and Dance Mania. You can visit from 11 AM to 7 PM on Saturdays and Sundays or by appointment during the week—to schedule a time, make a donation, or contribute to the exhibit, contact Chi-ROCK Nation at chirocknation.com.
Gossip Wolf has a soft spot for Chicago rock trio Luggage, not least because their drummer is longtime Reader writer Luca Cimarusti. Cimarusti, bassist Michael John Grant, and guitarist Michael Vallera debuted their tense, hypnotically minimalist postpunk with the 2016 album Sun, and on Friday they drop their fourth full-length, Happiness, via Ryley Walker's Husky Pants Records. Luggage play a release party at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday, July 14; Sam Prekop opens. v
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