Bobby Conn’s new album confronts the cruel delusion of ‘self-help’ | Gossip Wolf | Chicago Reader

Bobby Conn’s new album confronts the cruel delusion of ‘self-help’ 

Plus: Matt Jencik and Whitney Johnson team up as Deep Space Duo, and veteran hip-hop producer Spectacular Diagnostics rolls out new music for your social-distancing time.

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click to enlarge Bobby Conn on the cover of his new album, Recovery
  • Bobby Conn on the cover of his new album, Recovery

With his whip-smart glam-soul jams, Bobby Conn has been blowtorching advertising triplespeak, blind money lust, and corporate fascism for nearly three decades. At this point, he's undisputedly Chicago's most subversive rock star! Conn's new album, Recovery, which drops Friday, March 20, feels awash in brain-fogging wellness-industry detritus—when the plonky new-wave keyboards and robocall narration of "Disposable Future" slide into greasy funk dominated by Monica Boubou's violin, self-reflection seems like a grand delusion. In the video for lead single "Disaster," a deranged businessman—one of several characters played by Conn—paints himself as a hero by imagining horrifying hordes waiting outside the doors to tear him apart.

Gossip Wolf has long appreciated locals Matt Jencik and Whitney Johnson for their multitude of projects. Their music is usually engrossingly ruminative and ambient—but both also play in Haley Fohr's Circuit des Yeux live band, which isn't ambient at all. On Spacetones, Jencik and Johnson's debut as Deep Space Duo, they use Ace Tone organs to drift around each other in swirling washes that bring to mind kosmische juggernaut Cluster and early American minimalism a la La Monte Young. To make these spacious songs, says Jencik, "We got together and just jammed to four-track tape. There wasn't any writing beforehand."

Last month, arty veteran Chicago hip-hop producer Spectacular Diagnostics dropped the album Raw Unknown, which features verses from some of the best independent MCs in the game, including Quelle Chris, Vic Spencer, and Billy Woods. He'll also release loosies over the next few weeks to help people wait out the pandemic—he started this past weekend with "Ridin' (Remix)," a glossier version of the first song he released as Spectacular Diagnostics (both mixes feature Chicago producer-rapper Jeremiah Jae).  v

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