Experimental Sound Studio is a non-profit organization dedicated to the production, presentation, and preservation of experimental music and sonic arts in all forms. ESS is housed inside a full-service professional recording facility with two studios: Studio A, with a large live-room, isolation booth and control room, is perfect for recording and mixing; Studio B is equipped with a brand new Pro Tools HD system perfect for mastering and mixing audio for film. At street level is Audible, a small gallery dedicated to presenting periodic exhibitions of sound installation work and visual art. The building also houses the Creative Audio Archive, an astonishing collection of recordings, print, and visual ephemera related to avant-garde and exploratory sound and music from the last five decades. The CAA comprises a number of collections, including the Malachi Ritscher Collection, The Links Hall Collection, and the Sun Ra/El Saturn Collection—a priceless archive of approximately 600 tapes that represent the work of iconoclastic composer and bandleader Sun Ra. A serene, multi-tiered garden lies in the rear of the building.
ESS presents a variety of live performance programming in its various spaces and in Chicago at large: Outer Ear presents intimate performances by acclaimed experimental musicians and improvisers from around the globe; SummerSonic is a series of outdoor concerts in the garden by some of the most cutting-edge bands and singer-songwriters in Chicago; VinoSonic is a hybrid concert/wine-tasting, pairing sound artists and improvisers with different grape varietals and wine-producing regions; the long-running FloraSonic commissions sonic artists to create multi-channel sound installations within the Fern Room of the Lincoln Park Conservatory, and is the only program of its kind in the country. ESS has played host to collision_theory—a series of improvised performances by musicians and dancers, and has presented a number of large-scale sound installations created for the amazing sound system in Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion.
In addition to its performance programming, ESS offers workshops and classes in recording and mixing techniques and circuit-bending, as well as one-on-one tutorials in a variety of subjects.