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.
The duo are multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriters with a special penchant for two instruments in particular. "Well the band started because we knew we could sing well together we wanted to make some noise with the guitar,” says Cunningham. Elaborating, Stewart finishes, “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 parameters for ourselves that were both new and uncomfortable to force ourselves 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 croon complements Stewart's higher-register coo, all underpinned by the restrained yet highly inventive polyrhythmic percussion of drummer Matt Carroll. Think Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian-era Dirty Projectors—but quietly more imaginative and compositionally more eccentric.
Though both Stewart and Cunningham are still in their 20s, they've become established performers in the Chicago scene. Both have experience as veteran players in several projects (including Tweedy and Whitney), with some half-dozen albums under their belts and a fervent appetite for experimental live performance at local venues such as Constellation. Enlisting fellow Chicago cohorts Doug McCombs, 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.