Brown Girls writer Fatimah Asghar on Janelle Monae’s utopia for queer women of color | In Rotation | Chicago Reader

Brown Girls writer Fatimah Asghar on Janelle Monae’s utopia for queer women of color 

Plus: Macie Stewart of Ohmme on the beautifully epic new band that grew out of Cross Record, the Reader’s Peter Margasak on a trove of overdue Derek Bailey reissues, and more

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A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.

click to enlarge The Honest Jon’s label just reissued Derek Bailey’s 1976 duo with Tristan Honsinger.
  • The Honest Jon’s label just reissued Derek Bailey’s 1976 duo with Tristan Honsinger.

Peter Margasak, Reader music critic

Derek Bailey reissues London label Honest Jon's has been reissuing albums from Incus, the imprint run by pioneering guitar improviser Derek Bailey. The first three of these vinyl-only reissues—a solo session and duos with saxophonist Anthony Braxton and drummer Han Bennink—each include a bonus LP of previously unreleased material. The second batch doesn't come with extra music, but I can finally hear Bailey's brilliantly charged 1976 duo with cellist Tristan Honsinger.

Arditti Quartet, Hans Abrahamsen: String Quartets no. 1-4 Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen emerged in the early 70s as an adherent of "new simplicity," bucking the increasing complexity in European contemporary classical music. He's explored myriad instrumental combinations, but he's returned many times to the string quartet. The Arditti Quartet brings an exquisite touch to all four, especially the fourth, which it premiered in 2012—its spectral harmonics slowly yield a stunning melodic clarity.

Mica Levi, Delete Beach Mica Levi (Micachu & the Shapes) has written tension-filled film scores for Under the Skin and Jackie, and within that practice she shifts gears for this sci-fi anime by British experimental filmmaker Phil Collins. Her 29-minute soundtrack combines electronics, guitar noise, queasy washes of strings, and environmental elements (rain, a barking dog). Two of the three versions of the title theme include spoken text, one in Japanese and one in English. I'm still grappling with the music, and it keeps pulling me back.

Peter is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

click to enlarge Loma, the new band fronted by Emily Cross of Cross Record - BRYAN C. PARKER
  • Loma, the new band fronted by Emily Cross of Cross Record
  • Bryan C. Parker

Macie Stewart, half of Ohmme and member of the Few

Loma, Loma (Sub Pop) Emily Cross, formerly of Cross Record, left Chicago for Texas in 2013 with her husband, Dan Duszynski. Now they both live in Dripping Springs and play in the band Loma, whose self-titled debut album came out in February. I've listened to it three times in one day. Cross writes such beautiful songs, and they're expertly arranged. Loma's album is so beautiful and epic, so that you really feel like you're surrounded by the sonic world it creates.

Nnamdi Ogbonnaya's live show I saw Nnamdi play in Dallas the other night, and I was absolutely floored. I hadn't seen him in more than a year, and his current band lineup is so good. I couldn't stop jumping up and down. Go see him if you get the chance!

Bricktown Sound Dance Party This biweekly dance party has everything you could ask for. The best DJs! Affordable drinks! Dancing! All that, and it's even at the Hungry Brain. Really, what more could you want? It's always the first thing I go to when I get back from tour.

Macie is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

click to enlarge A still from Janelle Monae’s video for “Make Me Feel”
  • A still from Janelle Monae’s video for “Make Me Feel”

Fatimah Asghar, poet and writer of the Brown Girls webseries

Vince Staples, "Party People" I'm obsessed with the whole album, but this song is my favorite on Vince Staples's Big Fish Theory. With lines like "Please don't look at me in my face / Everybody might see my pain" and its bustling, relentlessly syncopated electronic beat, "Party People" creates a complicated mix of vulnerability and movement. Vince teeters on the edge of so many emotions in this song, which is an incredible feat. In general, that's how I feel about his music: he refuses to be flattened and instead really rises to the challenge of making his sounds and lyrics complex.

Janelle Monae's video for "Make Me Feel" As a queer woman of color, this is my anthem. I want to live in this world: its color, its fluidity, its fashion, its badassery. I think the combination of visuals and sounds in this video is really pushing toward a powerful articulation of freedom and sexuality. I love seeing an artist grow in how she expresses herself, and this definitely feels like an amazing evolution for Janelle.

Joseph Chilliams, "Fergie" Joseph Chilliams is a Chicago treasure. Listening to his music expands my ideas of what is possible in art. He occupies a magnificent terrain of humor, joy, lyricism, and wildness. He's also amazing to see perform—as an artist he truly doesn't give a fuck about anyone else. Also "Be careful how you clean your pussy, raising the pH" is one of the best lines I've ever heard in a song.

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