Friday Five: Double-length premium super-deluxe bonus edition
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
Normally I just feature five artists in the Friday Five. It says so right in the column title. No lies told here.
But what if Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels don't respect the arbitrary limit I place on the number of releases I feature in this column every week, and instead they just keep putting out so much high-quality music that I gotta run a double-length column just to keep up?
I respect your right to disrespect my artificial ceiling, Washtenaw County creatives, and I offer up this double-length premium super-deluxe bonus edition of the Friday Five.
This week features:
- the brilliant art-jazz-funk of Miles Okazaki
- techno by JTC
- metalcore by ONI featuring Iggy Pop and Randy Blythe
- jazz-drone by Colin Stetson, Elliott Sharp, Billy Martin, and Payton MacDonald
- Kenyan folk by Makadem and some Ann Arbor all-stars
- sound sculptures by Kikù Hibino
- video-game songs by mathew
- ghettotech by zagc
- Kraftwerk-ian pop by Telesonic 9000
- and emo-y pop by Premium Rat
Miles Okazaki, Thisness
Guitarist Miles Okazai spent the past eight years commuting from New York City to Ann Arbor, where he was a lecturer at the University of Michigan. In early April, Okazai announced he was leaving his post at U-M, just a few weeks before the release of his latest album, Thisness, and returning to NYC. I hope this life change gives him all the freedom in the world to tour and promote this incredible record (which might be named after an outtake from the Miles Ahead album sessions). As you can hear on this first single, "I'll Build a World," Okazaki and his band stretch form and rhythm like Silly Putty, with the spirit of the Surrealists' Exquisite Corpse methodology guiding the process. It's jazz, it's funk, it's jazz-funk—it's Okazaki music.
Ann Arbor's Tadd Mullinix (Dabrye, X-Altera, Charles Manier, etc.) releases his most Detroit techno-fied tracks under the JTC alias, and the new "ZifOne" single would have induced mad rump-shaking on The New Dance Show in 1991.
ONI with Iggy Pop and Randy Blythe (Lamb of God), "Secrets"
Iggy Pop has always loved to collaborate, whether it was with the Asheton brothers in The Stooges, with David Bowie during his solo career, or ... frankly, anyone who has the Igster's phone number. (Check out this massive collection of duets and collabs he's done.). The dudes from Canadian metalcore band ONI must have had a direct line to Ig's Batphone, so they asked him to do some of his patented spoken-word stuff on their latest single, "Secrets," which also features Lamb of God lead screamer Randy Blythe.
Colin Stetson, Elliott Sharp, Billy Martin, Payton MacDonald, Void Patrol
Ann Arbor Pioneer and U-M grad Colin Stetson made a name for himself as a solo baritone sax player who could hold audiences rapt both in concert and on albums, including scoring numerous movie soundtracks. But on the new collaborative album Void Patrol, Stetson plays nice—really nice—with some incredible musicians: guitarist Elliot Sharp, drummer Billy Martin (Medeski Martin & Wood), and keyboardist Payton MacDonald. The group describes its debut album as "“jazz dronecore funk metal," and I can 100% see this as a featured album with a handwritten review card at Schoolkids Records back in the day.
Makadem, "Mahogo wa Jan'gombe"
Ann Arbor's Dagoretti Records is a champion of the nyatti, an eight-string lute from Kenya. Not only did label boss Dr. Pete Larson learn how to play the instrument while working in Kenya, but he's also been documenting the players he admires. For the single "Mahogo wa Jan'gombe," a Zanzibari folk song, Nairobi-based Makadem recorded his solo performance—the usual way nyatti music is played—in Kenya, and then Michigan percussionist Mike List and Ann Arbor musicians Alex Anest (guitar) and Dave Sharp (bass) overdubbed their parts. It's a lovely, haunting, and hypnotic collaboration.
Kikù Hibino, When the East of the day meets the West of the night / Voices in the desert
Ann Arbor's 1473 label has a knack for highlighting arts-world-leaning sound sculptors. Japanese-born, Chicago-based Kikù Hibino is the latest artist to get the label's stamp of approval, and the two pieces spanning nearly 26 minutes on this EP will melt your brain and gently put it back together again. Get out your best headphones and sink in for a lovely listen.
mathew, No Splotch Gallery (Original Soundtrack)
It's usually unfair to review a video game's music without seeing the scenes the sounds are supporting, but the two strings-soaked songs Ann Arbor composer mathew made for the indie puzzle-platformer No Splotch Gallery are evocative and gorgeous as stand-alone pieces.
zagc, "freak bitch"
The Soundcloud tag for this song by Ann Arbor electronic artist zagc is "#JerseyClub," but it reminds me of something closer to home: the relentless drill beats of Detroit Ghettotech. Dancefloor mosh music.
Telesonic 9000, "Modern World"
Until recently, Ann Arbor's Dominick Gray played drums for Ypsi jam band Chirp. It's possible he left the band because he's getting so busy with his excellent one-man electronic music / video art project, Telesonic 9000. His latest single is the retro-futuristic "Modern World." (See him do his multimedia thing live at Ziggy's in Ypsi here.)
Premium Rat, Cope
I missed this six-song mini-album by Ypsilanti one-person project Premium Rat when it came out in February, but the freezing cold video for emo-y pop-punker "Hide, Not Seek" lets you know instantly that it came out during a Michigan winter. RIYL Alanis Morrisette, Paramore, and Avril Lavigne—which I do.
Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.