The Humminbird

Beyond the Orchard

To those outside of the Chicago orbit, one that has produced neo-psychedelic juggernauts the Plastic Crimewave Sound and, more recently, the loner-bellow of Circuit des Yeux, Muyassar Kurdi might be a completely new name. A member of the community that has fed the work of the aforementioned, and performing with the moniker The Humminbird, her reverb-drenched stew of voice, autoharp, organ, tanpura, samples, and electronics should open up unknown vistas. Whatever the term “psychedelic” means, a benchmark may exist, and The Humminbird’s minimal chants, pleading, and beguiling in a fuzzed-out haze, clearly put this music well within the psych realm.

Beyond the Orchard is her latest, a six-track EP that (hopefully) will see some sort of physical version. Until then, this twenty-four minute batch of unsettling siren songs, gauze-draped ballads, and rumbling off-kilter loops holds up quite well with a tangibleness that belies its digital home. The first three pieces are a solid introduction – in brief snippets – to Kurdi’s art, culminating in the aptly-titled “Drone,” which takes a page from the Journey in Satchidananda book and melds tanpura, oscillators and feedback into a short but arresting instrumental piece. The following three tunes are a bit longer, hovering around four to six minutes, and range from the nearly oppressive wash of “Dear Momma” to the folksy echoed beauty of “Don’t Want Your Love.” The closing title composition brings the fuzz in a wander of queasy repetition, percussion and blown-out organ that looks somewhat toward early CDY/Espers. Sure, The Humminbird is trippy, but her flitting is quite robust.

• The Humminbird:



You read that biddy-diddy interview with Alex Gray we published today? That ain’t no “GRAN.D,” th’oh, yo. Cause below beholds the newest flair off by good-old D/P/I, leaving it all up to Chance and Images. AND Leaving Records! What? Yes, out February 4 on Leaving Records is the new D/P/I digital and CS release of 08.DD.15. That’s all I gotta say. Stream it below and conduct your own viable imaginative situation to the sounds playing; don’t let me spoil a good vision:

• D/P/I:
• Leaving Records:

Thug Entrancer

“Death After Life I”

After relocating to the Chi-city in 2011, Ryan McRyhew has clearly absorbed a nice dose of Chicago-dance influence. As manifested in his upcoming release as Thug Entrancer, McRyhew has delineated a unique assimilation of analog dance exploration and arcane experimentation. Set to release on the beloved Daniel Lopatin’s Software, Death After Life is an eight-chapter progression that hones innovative analog brilliance, acidity, and a decidedly comfortable engagement of traditional techno-house motifs. In “Death After Life I,” the opening sequence and 808 jams both bobble under dragging synth evolutions. While our heads are spinning in the mix, we are given bursts of jukey-snare riddims that centralize and swing us on our journey. The calming yet obliquely meditative realm is uniquely powerful, especially when smeared on traditional dance elements.

“Death After Life I” is accompanied by an incredible, post-worldly 3D video rendering, directed by Milton Melvin Croissant III. The video is just as much a mind-winder as the track, and even more so when combined. We follow an ominous perspective as it progresses through a deconstruction of consumerist sci-fi aesthetics. We meet a friend with gloriously rag-dolled hair, before entering into its’ Star Wars mouth and climbing escalators into “techno-torture chambers, heavenly mall arcades and triumphant head-bangers,” as Milton describes. Ultimately, we’re brought to the pinnacle of the fluid construction, where questions of god might emerge. Totally interpretable, deliciously intriguing, and slyly satirical.

“Death After Life” by Thug Entrancer will be available February 11 via Software.

• Thug Entrancer:
• Software Records:



Dreamcrusher (Luwayne Glass of Wichita, KS) prepares his electronics on a three-legged table positioned under the exposed lightbulb providing the only source of light in the chamber. One hideous drainage pipe spans the west wall, dripping flakes of decay and asbestos onto the jackets of the pipe-leaning posse. Before anyone is even close to ready, Glass’s set begins.

Noise-Heads in attendance touch their temples with both hands and sway in arrhythmic ecstasy. “Oh daaaaaaggg!!!” “Straight up power electronics, man.” “Harsh Noise Walls FTW!!” No one, not even the screamers themselves, hear these screams over the torrent of static-blasted death gushing from the PA. Black plastic bags emerge from pockets and cover heads.

Ravers in attendance lick a finger and hold it out to test the barometric pressure. Perfect for throwing down and/or getting there. A bass drum throbs through the mayhem as the attendees spread out into their own radii of free motion. Arms fly and heads bang as side-chain compression squeezes peals of feedback and house beats into one pulse: “untz H*H#T(#TE untz 83ty9#YHT#AT untz *#TQ(HTAUTGND untz.”

People that don’t fit into either of these demographics, or fit into both, enjoy themselves down there in the basement. Dreamcrusher’s maelstrom of live destruction offers something for everyone.

Incinerator is available on limited edition cassette, and digitally via Bandcamp.

• Dreamcrusher:
• This Ain’t Heaven Recording Concern:

Isaiah Rashad


When Top Dawg released good kid, m.A.A.d city in 2012, everyone expected the label to dominate in 2013. Actually, I don’t know anyone who actually thought that, but if you did, you would’ve been wrong anyway: Top Dawg released 0 albums in 2013. This year, however, the label has an astonishing six albums planned, the first of which comes courtesy of Chattanoogan rapper Isaiah Rashad. The long-anticipated Cilvia Demo features 14 tracks, with guest spots by the likes of Jay Rock, ScHoolboy Q, SZA, and Michael Da Vinci. It’s officially out right meow, but before you drive off to your local iTunes Megastore, check out Rashad’s video for “Soliloquy” above.

Meanwhile, look for TDE’s second album of the year, Oxymoron by ScHoolboy Q, at the end of February, and a new release by Macklemore Kendrick Lamar hopefully sometime later this year.

• Isaiah Rashad:
• Top Dawg:



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CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we'll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.