Friday Five: Knitted Myths, Deja Senti, Heavy Color, Unmanned Ship, WCBN Local Music Show sets
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features prog-pop by Knitted Myths, electronic excursions via Deja Senti, jazz-influenced experimental songs by Heavy Color, sludge rock from Unmanned Ship, and a slew of live sets from WCBN's Local Music Show.
Knitted Myths, The Right to Be Forgotten
Drummers occupy a unique place in local music scenes. There's never enough of them, so many musicians end up playing in multiple bands, though not usually as the primary creative force. Washtenaw County mainstay David Serra has played in numerous bands in the area for years, but his debut album as Knitted Myths gives him a chance to shine as the frontperson—and as a side person and, yes, as the drummer. The Right to Be Forgotten was written, performed, recorded, and mixed by Serra, and it's a quirky foray into bedroom prog-pop. Field recordings of birds mix and a mashup cover of "Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again" bump against loose-limbed songs that swerve from section to section and refuse to stay in a single lane for long. Serra sounds a tiny bit like Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt, especially on the lovely chorus for "Waits the Wraiths," but he won't quite commit to the baritone bit. RIYL: Robert Wyatt, David Berman, and idiosyncratic songs that come in from leftfield and run the bases backward.
Deja Senti, Spirit Cooker
Ypsilanti's Andrew Harvey strikes me as a person with a large record collection. His debut album as Deja Senti genre-hops through industrial hip-hop, dark ambient, drum 'n' bass, and hypnotic rhythmic excursions with the sort of confidence that comes from many hours of deep listening and absorbing a wide range of influences.
Heavy Color, Soft Light
Toledo, Ohio's Heavy Color is Ben Cohen, Sam Woldenberg, and many talented friends, including vocalist Estar Cohen, who is likely a familiar name to music fans in Washtenaw County. (Sarah Cohen is another vocalist here, so maybe this is a Talent Family situation.) Scott Boberg, deputy director of the Ann Arbor Film Festival, wrote the liner notes for Soft Light, and he likes to drop as many band references as I do when using shorthand to describe someone's music: "I was immediately immersed in that specific sonic experience in which I kept finding personal reference points that continue to exponentially accumulate with repeated listening (hold your breath before diving into my very personal (and, yes, partial) list of where this music took me): Nik Bärtsch, Harold Budd, Kate Bush, Can, The Comet is Coming, Cluster, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Eno (Brian and Roger), Peter Gabriel, John Hassell, Hüsker Dü, Kraftwerk, Pierre Kwenders, My Bloody Valentine, Bill Nelson, Pink Floyd, Prefuse 73, Ravel, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Stereolab, Tangerine Dream, Wilco, Wire, and Hector Zazou… Yikes!" Yikes, indeed! But that's a great list, and after you check out Heavy Color's fab Soft Light, you should listen to every one of those artists. (Estar Cohen also sings on the forthcoming album by Ann Arbor saxophonist Kenji Lee.)
Unmanned Ship, Tiny Cage Ep 6
Unmanned Ship is an absurdist trio from Chicago that plays improv-influenced avant-rock. WCBN-FM resumed its Tiny Cage concert series and captured the sludgy band as students applied face paint to their peers.
Various Artists, live performances on WCBN's Local Music Show
WCBN's Local Music Show, which we profiled in 2018 here, has a long history of hosting bands in the studio and releasing the live sets on Soundcloud. The pandemic put the series on hold for a while, but it has roared back in 2022 with performances happening almost every week on the show. We covered the pre-July 2022 performances here, and below are the live sets that have been broadcast since then. I haven't had a chance to listen to all of them yet, but I can recommend the Ann Arbor ambient project Utica as well as The Jon Hassell Project, named for the influential "Fourth World" trumpeter who died in 2021 and featuring recently deceased WCBN and WEMU DJ Michael G. Nastos on percussion alongside fellow explorers from the Southeast Michigan jazz and experimental world.
Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.