Friday Five: ZZVAVA, Delphine Delight, Cellar Floor, French Ship, Abusuzit

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 04-16-2021

Friday Five is where we highlight music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features garage rock via ZZAVA, EDM-techno from Delphine Delight, lo-fi hip-hop by Cellar Floor, electronic pop by French Ship, and Ghana jams by Abuszit courtesy Dagoretti Records.

 

Beyond the Birds: Ann Arbor Poet Ed Morin’s "The Bold News of Birdcalls" explores nature, relationships, and work

WRITTEN WORD INTERVIEW

Ed Morin and his book The Bold News of Birdcalls

The Bold News of Birdcalls by Ed Morin is not just about birds. Stories about people, relationships, work, and news occupy his poems. In “Moments Musicaux,” with a dedication to “my sister Audrey,” we read about her birth, marriages, and children. We learn that “Her last words to me were, ‘You’ll look younger if you get your hair cut more often.’ ” Morin sees both the gravity and the humor in his subjects. 

Morin’s poems that do focus on nature or birds are not without the poet’s opinion. The poem “Icicles” says, “February is a sallow miser who hoards / what little daylight is left in the world.” Yet the collection is also not without appreciation for the natural world. We see how industrious birds can be, as “Housing for Wrens” offers the lines “along comes the plain-brown-wrappered wren, focused as a meter reader, from yard / to yard appraising birdhouses for nesting.” This poet not only observes the wren but also admits in another poem that: 

Inspired by Little Free Libraries, two miniature art galleries have popped up in Ann Arbor

VISUAL ART

Free Little Art Gallery and Take Art Leave Art

Left: Marie McMahon Parmer stands in front of her Free Little Art Gallery. Photo from Instagram.
Right: Some of the recent items at Take Art Leave Art. Photo by Shawn Bungo via Instagram.

The trend of placing a Little Free Library in front of your home/school/business and filling it with books is such a feel-good story—barren boxes or those filled with water-stained dregs from someone's basement notwithstanding—that it's surprising variations on this haven't happened: Canned Goods Rejected by Your Children Cupboard, Clothes That Your Kids Wore Once and Then Never Grabbed From the Bottom of Their Dresser Drawers Boutique, Sporting Goods I Thought I Could Sell for More Than I Was Offered Shoppe.

But Pittsfield Township's Shawn Bungo and Ann Arbor's Marie McMahon Parmer recently launched clever variations on the Little Library ideal by offering free art.

Julie Babcock's poetry book "Rules for Rearrangement" considers how to carry on after a sudden loss

WRITTEN WORD INTERVIEW

Poet Julie Babcock and her book Rules of Engagement

University of Michigan lecturer Julie Babcock’s recent poetry collection, Rules for Rearrangement, offers a journey to discover what those rules are. The book charts a thorough and far-reaching path through memories and ways to persist when someone has disappeared from one’s life. 

The Ann Arbor poet writes, “Everyone is filled with a heavy combination / of blockage and sun.” The obstruction and brightness feel relatable. People have their burdens and their joys. 

How might someone go about rearranging both what weighs them down and what buoys them? A stanza in a section called “Arson” asks for the following: 

Introduce your new self and explain your need. For instance: I need rules for
           rearrangement. For instance: I need to box memories. I need to let my 
           objects know it’s not them.

For Babcock, it can be a matter of space and objects. That same poem goes on to discuss how “Empty space you uncover will be awkward and shy.” Yet, “Former free space you cover will be angry.” This negotiation illuminates the effort it takes to design spaces, things, and even life differently than what they were before. The poet both rails against and is curious about the things around them and what happens to them. 

At the end of the collection when “He returns from the dead so they can discuss Bob Dylan who won the Nobel / prize for literature,” it becomes clear that the rules may be malleable and dependent on how someone approaches them because "'My love,' he says, 'nothing is every one thing.'" Allowing for this multiplicity offers permission for whatever way a person moves forward in the wake of a traumatic event. 

I interviewed Babcock about her new book, writing, and novel in the works.  

Friday Five: Matthew Dear, Battalion, David Song, Grayson Jarvis, Arthur Durkee

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 04-09-2020

Friday Five is where we highlight music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features twangy techno from Matthew Dear, thrash metal via Battalion, R&B by David Song, meditative music courtesy Grayson Jarvis, and avant-ambient flute by Arthur Durkee.

 

Ann Arbor's Quite Scientific label looks back at its beginnings and readies a relaunch

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Quite Scientific logo and album cover collage

The Quite Scientific record label began out of failure.

In 2005, Justin Spindler and brothers Brian and Jeremy Peters had the idea to shed more light on their local Lansing music scene. Justin and Brian gathered songs for a compilation album that they’d release under a yet-to-be-determined name, and in the process, they met members of the band Canada.

Canada had self-released the How Dare You EP and had the song "Hexenhaus" on another compilation, which is what caught the ear of Justin and Brian. They were so impressed with that tune they struck a deal with the band to release a full album.

The compilation record never came together, but Canada's debut album did.

Brian Peters recorded, engineered, and mixed what became This Cursed House in his bedroom/living room in Lansing during the fall and winter of 2005 using a soundboard used to mix portions of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

“I bought it from a studio in Kentucky,” says Brian. “It was used by a studio that Industrial Light & Magic outsourced work to. It made for a good thing to catch people’s attention in the press release.”

Theatre Nova’s Zoom play series continues with "Mortal Fools" by Ann Arbor playwright Catherine Zudak

THEATER & DANCE REVIEW

Theatre Nova, Zoom Play of the Month graphic

The Goldilocks Principle, though not regularly cited in reference to storytelling, can nonetheless be maddening for those who build narratives.

For how does a writer determine, in each scene, what’s too much information (thus bogging things down and killing suspense) and what’s too little (leaving audiences confused and frustrated)? How do you consistently land upon what feels “just right”?

It’s a notoriously tough needle to thread—particularly within the tight parameters of a 30-minute Zoom play—and this notion was something I thought about often while watching the third and newest entry in Theatre Nova’s Play of the Month series, Mortal Fools, by Ann Arbor-based playwright Catherine Zudak. (The live performance recording of Fools may be viewed—along with the first two entries in Theatre Nova’s Zoom play series, Jacquelyn Priskorn’s Whatcha Doin? and Ron Riekki’s 4 Genres—with the purchase of a $30 series pass, which also covers admission for the fourth and final play in the series, Morgan Breon’s The W.I.T.C.H., scheduled to be performed April 28 at 8 pm) 

Ann Arbor poet David Jibson on Crazy Wisdom's Poetry Circle, "3rd Wednesday Magazine," and his new book, "Protective Coloration"

WRITTEN WORD INTERVIEW

Book cover for David Jibson's Protective Coloration

 

It’s well-known that the life of a poet often means being attentive to the world around oneself, seeing parallels between things or living beings and their thoughts, actions, ideas, and values. David Jibson, co-host of the Crazy Wisdom Poetry Circle, uncovers these connections throughout the poems in his latest book, Protective Coloration

The collection’s title is made clear by the poem of the same name, in which a restaurant scene unfolds "with the poet of a certain age, hidden in a corner booth / at the back of the cafe, as quiet as any snowshoe hare, / as still as a heron among the reeds.” There, we see the poet blending in while also taking in the view. Jibson welcomes the reader to join him in seeing striking insights through straightforward language, like the person in “Amy’s Diner” who, while studying the group of men in baseball caps eating the senior special, gets the invitation to “Pull up a chair.”

As people in another poem speculate while preparing and waiting for the arrival of guests, they are “as ready as we’ll ever be, / realizing, now, how much time has passed / since we last dusted in the corners of our lives.” The poems encourage readers to wonder at such things in their own lives. 

Friday Five: Bill Van Loo, Same Eyes, Intensity Recordings, Alissa Freeman, Blue Gene Tyranny

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 04-02-2021

Friday Five is where we highlight music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features dub techno from Bill Van Loo, synth-pop by Same Eyes, piano miniatures courtesy Alissa Freeman, an EDM comp from Intensity Recordings, and experimental works by Blue Gene Tyranny.

 

Designing the Future Funk: Kawsaki's music looks to the past to explore an imagined aftertime

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Kawsaki

Time is a flat circle.

Kwame Sakyi Jr. is a man out of time. 

Or rather, his musical alter ego, Kawsaki, is a composer out of time.

Or maybe Kwame Sakyi and Kawsaki are right on time.

That's the thing about modern music that draws deeply from the past: what at first sounds retro gets reclaimed as futuristic.

Or an imagined future.

Or an alternate contemporary reality.

Retrowave evaporates into vaporwave and shapeshifts into future funk.

All of this to same Kwame "Kawsaki" Sakyi Jr. makes contemporary retrowave that looks forward to future funk misted with vaporwave to create a sound that encompasses the past 45 years of synthesizer music.

And he's a master at doing it.

But for Sakyi, an Ann Arbor native in his late 30s who now calls Detroit home, a different genre of music first turned him onto retro styles.