Chicago beat maker Spectacular Diagnostics brings a mystical touch to underground hip-hop | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Chicago beat maker Spectacular Diagnostics brings a mystical touch to underground hip-hop 

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click to enlarge Spectacular Diagnostics

Spectacular Diagnostics

Kaitlin Kostus

Chicago hip-hop producer and visual artist Robert Krums has been making music for nearly two decades, and for most of that time he went by the name Earmint. About five years ago, he reinvented himself as Spectacular Diagnostics. Fortunately, the reputation in the national underground he’d earned as Earmint helped him assemble a hit squad of guest MCs—Vic Spencer, Quelle Chris, Jeremiah Jae, Westside Gunn, Conway the Machine—for his first Spectacular Diagnostics album, 2015’s Raw Game. He didn’t reach out to his rapper network for the new Thebeautifulmusic (released by German label Vinyl Digital), an instrumental release that throws his mystical touch into sharper relief. Krums makes drums sound like they’re floating even when they sting with precision; his keyboards exude an air of glamour and grime; and his durable bass stitches together the most minimalist compositions while remaining in the shadows. On Thebeautifulmusic, Krums steers his jazz-influenced instrumentals toward languid lounge (“Pour One Out,” “Clouds”) and glitzy disco (“Routines”), demonstrating how these foundational genres communicate with each other as he rearranges them into brand-new conversations.   v

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