New-music feast the Frequency Festival returns after taking a COVID year

Shapes Reader staff writer Peter Margasak has been programming the Frequency Series at Constellation since 2013, bringing in artists from across the wide spectrum of experimental and new music for weekly showcases. Since 2016 Margasak has also booked the annual Frequency Festival, which skipped 2021 for obvious reasons; the festival will return for its sixth iteration from Tuesday, February 22, till Sunday, February 27, with events split between Constellation and the Renaissance Society. The stacked lineup includes pedal steel guitar master Susan Alcorn, the debut of a tasty duo by Haley Fohr (aka Circuit des Yeux) and Bill Nace (half of Body / Head), a string quartet led by cellist Tomeka Reid that will perform Julius Hemphill’s Mingus Gold (plus other Hemphill transcriptions for string quartet), and the first Chicago appearance of Swedish composer and sound artist Hanna Hartman, who combines acoustic and electronic sources and makes extensive use of a huge library of found sounds (in a 2019 interview for the Wireshe describes recording a ball rolling in potato starch).

Most shows are ticketed events (the Hartman concert at the Renaissance Society is free), but the price of those tickets— $ 15 apiece — is set low enough that Margasak expects to need help meeting all the festival’s many expenses, which include instrument rentals and transportation and lodging for performers. He’s launched a GoFundMe, hoping to raise $ 3,000 toward those costs.

Hanna Hartman performs at Issue Project Room in December 2013 as part of the Swedish Energies festival.

Last week, Chicago hardcore band Si Dios Quiere dropped an EP called Sol y Guerra through New Morality Zine, and it sets a high bar for their peers in the scene to clear. Two members of the five-piece Chicano group recently talked to punk news site No Echo, explaining that the themes of Sol y Guerra focus on the experiences of south-side Latinx communities. The band sings in Spanish and English, and on the new EP they add new layers of muscle to their already intense tunes by harnessing the power of thrash and death metal. NMZ made 50 cassette copies of Sol y Guerraand at publication time they were already almost sold out!

At publication time, seven cassette copies of Sol y Guerra remained.

The new debut album by local R&B artist Elijah LeFlore, Sunset Radio, feels like it’s suffused with sunbeams powerful enough to melt Chicago’s ice and snow. Skipping hip-hop drums, wah-washed guitars, and laid-back vocals casually flow through “She,” which belongs on any playlist meant to evoke sunny days and joyful memories.

Sunset Radio is Elijah LeFlore’s first full-length album release.

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