Premiere: Sous Chef "Cook County"
The new visual album from Sous Chef, Cook County, is a journey through reality, taking on dreams, death, and distance. The final vignette about a dream ties the album together, even though all the vignettes are different stylistically, by touching on all the themes of the previous scenes. The music is thoughtful, driving the story forward and providing the correct relief when the film seems to be leading a direction that it is not. The experimental electronic album samples heavily from the artist’s friends like Jeremy, the person featured in the sampled dialogue on the album, who was leaving for Tokyo at the time Sous Chef finished the recording process. Many of the collaborators and those sampled have ties to the Chicago area. The album at its core is about relationships, the artist’s physical friendships, and the artist’s relationship with space, time, and existence.
The film begins in a dream-like state, with people wearing masks as if to hide their true intention and feelings, but the story unfolds with the final scene being clearly shot as a dream and the music referencing to the dream state. The narrative is strong throughout the film and the music is complex and warm, lightly grabbing the listener by the arm and pulling them along down the path the piece is on, looking back and smiling every so often. I really like the part around minute 14:50 when some colorful whistling lips begin to fill the screen and whistle along with the music. Although generally tranquil, the film isn’t all smiles. The film progresses like a REM cycle, mildly disorienting in the first scene, progressing into calm dreams about the people in one’s life, and ends the way many dreams do, with a troubling and puzzling fight to wake the viewer up. As the artist who began the film in a mask unable to put it all out on the table right away, can now confront their own internal conflict, navigate life’s relationships, and find a peaceful resolution.
This album is really an endearing look at connection across the void, that of consciousness, death, and physical distance. The album is comprised of short vignettes that average around 4 minutes long, making the album easy to digest and perfect for a train or bus ride, even if you have a transfer. Cook County is an introspective album that’s worth a view, and a few replays, and the layered complex melodies make it listenable even without the video.