You cannot talk about Chicago house music without mentioning Green Velvet. Also known as Cajmere, among other aliases, this living legend has been spinning the most hypnotizing techno music since the early 90’s. Good portion of electronic dance music fans today were just in diapers and had no idea the impact this genre would make on generations of dance music lovers. Green Velvet already deep into early rave culture graced the clubs with hits like LA LA LAND, ANSWERING MACHINE and SHAKE & POP to name a few. Most recent recognizable song to be sampled multiple times after its release is LAZER BEAMS with Harvard Bass.
Recent months Green Velvet has been on a spree releasing, collaborating with popular house and techno artists. Working on a remix EP with Adam Beyer, Layton Giordani and two seprate tracks, SHARE NOW and COMPLEX, with Mauro Venti and Eats Everything. Keeping true to his techno roots this grooves will keep you vibing on a dancefloor. In classic style, Green velvet adds vocals lyrics and commentary to add to the hypnotizing beats giving a surreal and underground atmosphere.
What is love without the pain? Some will believe you cannot have the good with out the bad. For Autograf the good & the bad is what Love & Retrograde comprises of; the highs and their lows of their last couple of years. You can even hear it literally as you go through dark low bass lines and high end synths and vocals between songs.
Starting the EP off with Test the Waters, a down tempo beat setting a heavy tone. In between these hypnotic instrumental breaks echoes, “Go out and Test the Waters the tide will drag you deeper than you know“, like a test of will of some kind. What will come of this darkness and confusion? The EP then jumps into Retrograde, tunneling through minimal bass sounds, giving some life with these bassline grooves, a strong positive transformation!
Getting your energy ready the Casual Love, this track breathes life into Love & Retrograde, a hopeful sound to bounce around to and chant along with. “I’m looking for people of a like mind… I’m looking for love of a casual kind“; another house anthem for Autograf. They Then get funky with Hold Me Back, giving the right attitude for living singing, “the corners no place for me babe“. Turning this EP on its head from dark to energetic sounds with strong notes, Love & Retrograde really paints a story from start to finish.
Letting their fans know it represents growth for them musically and personally, paying close attention you can hear and feel that in this EP. From the dark, minimal sounds and the doubtful lyrics in the beginning with, to vivacious house beats and groovy tunes with strong affirmations. Autograf ends it strong with Night Drive, a mix of high vibes and low techno basslines. Love & Retrograde is the perfect title for the project for what it represents.
It would be cool if a call to 411 would give you information on your favorite music artists. But digital media got us for now where we got our ears on LWKY & Inverse Universe with their latest release titled 411. A lot of talent involved in this collaboration with three heads in LWKY’s band adding two more artists with Inverse. Both compliment each others electro soul style of music.
We are introduced to Inverse Universe with this release, the duo seems to be influenced on hip hop and classic rock music mixing it with electronic bass and soul similarly to Manic Focus. Tyler Thompson and Adam Stephens add to the list of artists consistent with that sound coming out of Chicago. Paired together with LWKY on 411 they make a electro soul beat sounds orchestral. The track is so well put together between you can swear you have heard it before but it is an original, it is just that easy to listen to.
Artists may tend to change up their original style and approach to their creative expression. It is how they survive, It is in an artists nature; they are not one single idea but many out of the box projections. Manic Focus, also known as Jmac, is known to change up styles constatantly. Between hip hop, bass, and some electro funk, even a mixture of all of em may occur, Jmac got plenty of room to express himself any which way he likes. His last two releases are a good example of experimentation between songs!
The older of the two, Never Grew Up, may be what you typically hear come out of Manic sets. Some live instrument samples followed by wonky bass lines, choppy synth work and a dynamic beat pattern to a slow bpm. All creating a groovy and tranquil energy as “we never grew up” echoes repeatedly reminding us, we are in this for the fun! A sound so familiar with Manic it can probably land under its own genre.
Fans of Manic might find his latest release All This Is hard to swallow, with an introduction throwing them off to more of a house bpm structure. Following the build up however Jmac brings it back with dark metallic bass lines and chops exuding a menacing energy that would throw a crowd into a frenzy. Living an industry surrounded by all types of genres it is only right for an artist like Manic Focus to experiment and inject his madness into it all.
Many artists release a genre consistent set of music but that is not how Saladin works. His consistency is in change and most artists typically get the cold shoulder from fans for this but he has his own formula keeping his listeners captivated. From House music to Future Bass, Trap to Dubstep Saladin works it all with no hesitation, though House and Techno are rudimentary. Just within the last couple of months we got to taste his creativity in most of our favorite music styles.
Keeping it different with every release he really shows his versatility as an artist. Since the start of the year Saladin been releasing diverse and note worthy beats, even gaining support from artists like Hardwell, Morgan Page & more with tracks like his House influenced C’mon Now on Revealed Recordings. There is something to learn from every genre in production and the quality of his music shows that. This opens him up to working with diverse set of artists as well. On top of that he can always keep it fresh whether it be on the dance floor or on a playlist, Saladin can control any audience with ease.
Most recently he works with Trap, Future Bass and House music. Starting here with GNGBNGR, Saladin rides a simple melody and beat pattern while a vocal sample chimes in, “I used to be a gang banger… now I’m just a mother f*ckin’ headbanger”, into a smooth bass drop and high frequency synths. Turning that vibe around with ITSALL4U with more ambient melodies and bass-lines for his Future Bass fans. Then finally he comes back to House music with his latest, Fight For Love, featuring EDM vocalist OMZ with the hopeful lyrics, “I can’t even look you in the eye its the darkest night of my life… But baby we can fight for love tonight“. Listening to Saladin music you will feel all kinds of ways, you will catch yourself throwing elbows to jumping and dancing.
Putting a few bass heads together on a beat you should expect some madness. Kynetyk teams up with Reesebay and Cha boi to show you how that sounds like. Rippin’ sound bites of Frank Murphy from the cartoon F Is For Family adds a little emphasis on the overall mayhem. Packed with heavy growling bass lines between dark melodic breaks supporting Murphy’s tantrums. This follows We All Float, another track with Reesebay for a comeback. Keep an eye out for his next move Kynetyk got a sound you do not want to miss out on!
If you were to plan world domination, starting with music influence would be smart. RAAKMO seems to be foreshadowing; his latest collab Take Over with an artist named Gl0bal? Maybe only obvious to some. Working together last year on their track Slept On ft Malcolm Flex following the Pazuzu EP, seems they been plotting for a while, as their style certainly got heavier and production quality got cleaner. RAAKMO also worked with Porn & Chicken recently releasing Get Back. Gearing up for festival season crowds, tracks like these will cause a ruckus!
When you put two dope Chicago artists together you get gold and these two got stacks of them! Kyral x Banko have been pumping out their arsenal of bass little by little and each one gets better everytime; they all sound like anthems. Their dub-plates are heavy and clean with beat patterns and hooks influenced by hip hop and trap bass. A good composition of sound to represent their city which is raw, authentic and in your face. With some heavy Colorado roots the two have been all up and down Chicago and Denver spreading some good music and good energy.
Just to highlight a few of their releases since the start of the year we have Gold released as apart of an artist compilation EP called Alchemy, a slow but energetic track building up to their drop phrase Im Gettin Paid Bitchwhere a whole bunch of frequencies on the low end hit you. Following you got Rambo by So Down who featured Kyral x Banko and Def3 for a hip hop beat to tell it how it is. Most recently the duo released Stacks on Plenum Records with a few hooks to build up to a bass drop that hits you with the high end synths low bass and wild beat patterns ready for their adrenaline hungry fans at their next events in Colorado and adding Iowa to that list too! If you cannot catch them live follow their uploads, they hit the spot every time.
Vesper is the dance pop duo spawned in Chicago between Zak Fox Jablow whom of which produced for names like Chance the Rapper, the late Mac Miller – and songstress Samantha Humphreys. They are releasing their debut album Years on vinyl April 5th, digitally April 18th, with a release party at Chicago’s Empty Bottle two days prior on Tuesday, April the 16th.
Made in Chicago yet they have recently moved to Nashville and finished the writing and production of their first album. Prior to this project they had dropped a few singles, some of which have made it on to Years including SwayBetter and Electric. Their 10 song LP is perfect in its length and progression offering a listener a warm mixture of piercingly beautiful vocals reminiscent of the late Dolores O’riordan, Regina Spektor, Natasha Bedingfield and funky, swooping rhythmic sections which reminded me of Flying Lotus, an alternative Mike Will Made It, and Chrome Sparks. Although comparisons nonetheless, this record Years is a unique sonic experience.
My personal favorite song on the album: Bird starts with a hip hop like sample going into Samantha singing lyrics about her mother giving her one last piece of advice before passing. A hauntingly gorgeous tune. “And again I was an orphan, who newly hit the ground“, “When my sorrow sneaks up onto me, I think of what I’ve let go, and somehow its gone like a shadow of a bird across my window!“. When the lyrics aren not hitting you and evoking emotions over past traumas, their somewhat cryptic style offers much to be thought about by a listener and fan.
Ghosts was another favorite from Years. Like every song on their LP there is much aural texture and dynamics within the sonic production and musical composition. Every song has build ups, bass drops, rhythmic drop offs containing melody, and vocal stacks with Samantha’s layered harmonies. Vesper has what gives a song a potentially timeless experience to listen to rather than another song to be consumed. Lyrics I enjoyed and felt: “We’ve got a heart but someone’s trying to take it, we’ve got a heart but something’s always pushing it around!” and “There’s ghosts in this city, there’s ghosts in our town, their words are so pretty, but they’ll only drag you down!“. Again, much depth to their almost early 90’s grunge rock like lyrical structure.
Samantha Humphreys carries the vocals of the duo whereas Zak Jablow makes sure the instrumental production will make you want to dance and jam. They do however have a duet on the record. Offering a glance at Zak’s earnest vocals and a tenor softness which is slightly emulative of the male counterpart of Boyce Avenue. Better has Zak and Samantha’s voices intertwined on the refrain, giving the entire LP vocal diversity as well! Not that I would not listen to a record of only Samantha Humphreys but Zak’s voice was pleasant to listen to! Zak also contributes background vocals on the songs Married to the Night and Sway.
Listening to the record Years straight through, I felt a sense of rejuvenation. The music offers pleasantries and traumas to think about all the while making you want to shuffle dance on the floor. I am excited to see them live at the Empty Bottle in Chicago, April 16th. I hope you join me!
If you think music is your drug then check out these tracks! Cofresi is back after enjoying the success of the Coda EP late last year. Started the new year off right with a video accompanied remix for the modern classic by Gotye, Somebody That I Used To Know. Cofresi’s take on the song really takes you by surprise if you think the original was overplayed, this may change your mind! Behind the scenes Cofresi continues to detail his live performances as he prepares for a long list of events for the spring calender.
Introducing a theme to the tour with the release of Keep U High, his second release and first original of the year, you will notice the tour calender matching the songs cover art. Included in his tour will be Bassphysics, who worked with Cofresi on Keep U High, and Plantrae. On other dates Cofresi supports SoDown on their own tour making it a two in one commitment; capitalizing on the opportunity to make a big thing bigger!
Similar to artists likeElevatd, Cofresi keeps most his treasures exclusively for his live audience. Sometimes he is generous to give some his online fans ataste of the exclusive but it would be best to catch him live. Following his Keep U High release with Bassphysics, Cofresh drops visuals from a live set as he plays his own version of Liquid Stranger and Space Jesus‘s collab track Dragonhawks. An surprising choice for Chicagos future bass drummer but an impressive take as can see through the crowds reaction; or even your own stank face.