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Already celebrated as the “Heart of Chicago’s Music Community” (Noisey) by both fans and tastemakers alike, OHMME (aka the duo of Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart) amalgamate the aggressive and the meditative on their bold debut full-length album, Parts.
Still in their 20s, Stewart and Cunningham are both classically trained musicians and are established players within the Chicago music scene. They are especially involved in performing and working for venues within the local experimental music scene. They’re constant collaborators and have recorded and toured with homegrown acts as varied as Tweedy, Whitney, Chance The Rapper and Twin Peaks.
Cunningham and Stewart are multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriters with a penchant for two instruments in particular. “The band started because we knew we could sing well together and we wanted to make some noise with the guitar,” says Cunningham. Stewart elaborates, “Sima and I are both trained classical pianists and we know many of the sonic spaces keyboards have to offer. Since we were interested in experimenting and creating something different from what we had both done in the past, we chose guitar as our outlet for this band. We wanted to create both new and uncomfortable parameters for ourselves to force us into a different creative space.” These guitar-heavy experiments are sometimes earthy and resounding, at other times shimmering and buzzing—swirling around the duo’s expertly crafted vocals while creating a chaotic bed of harmony. Cunningham’s smoky alto complements Stewart’s higher-register croon, all underpinned by the restrained yet highly inventive polyrhythmic percussion of drummer Matt Carroll. Think Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian-era Dirty Projectors.
Enlisting fellow Chicago cohorts Doug McCombs (Tortoise), Ken Vandermark and cellist Tomeka Reid, OHMME recorded and self-produced Parts from Cunningham’s Logan Square home studio, Fox Hall. With Parts, OHMME “wanted to capture a moment in time instead of something perfect.” The results are thrilling: from the pure pop opening track “Icon” to the candied sludge of “Peach” to the skipping rhythms of “Parts” and the dusky closer “Walk Me,” Parts draws from influences as diverse as Kate Bush and Brian Eno’s Here Come the Warm Jets to jazz and improvisational music, making for an electric debut listening experience.
This range from sweetly shiny 2-minute hypnotic bangers to woozy and sprawling 7-minute long tracks boasting moodily atmospheric wafting guitars and piercing feedback shows a band colliding thoughtfulness and creative ingenuity to produce music as unique as it is earworm-worthy. With Parts, OHMME manage to organically marry a breadth of divergent styles into an album that is cohesive, daring, and distinctly their own.
Deeper’s Origins date back to 2014 when prior to releasing any material an abrupt line-up change left the Chicago based band looking for a new direction. Singer and guitarist Nic Gohl along with childhood friend, guitarist Mike Clawson and drummer Shiraz Bhatti threw out all of their old songs and brought on bassist Drew McBride to round out the lineup. The subsequent demos leaned on intricate guitar interplay, direct “of the times” vocals and a spirit that speaks to the band’s collective place in this pit of endless internet.
Deeper honed their sound over the course of 2015 & 16’ in basements, lofts, and anywhere that would have them. Touring the demos and landing at a fully realized inflection point. Call it Post-Punk, call it Indie Rock, it’s a record that steps in and out of boxes filtered through an unmistakable midwestern lens.
As social norms and political ideologies distort, writing and creating art was the only way to control the growing voice in the band’s collective head. The conceptualizing of the album started and stopped over that two year time warp culminating in a few feverish tracking sessions in late 2017. What was left is a stark shimmering portrait of a modern American experience.
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