Friday Five: i-sef u-sef, Dresden Codex, Future Holograms, HORSE BOMB, labgrown podcast & compilations


Album art for the music featured in this Friday Five.

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features bassoon-fueled avant-soul by i-sef u-sef, space rock by Dresden Codex, chillwave-tronica by Future Holograms, noise jams by HORSE BOMB, and emo-rap highlights from the labgrown prodcast and its compilations.


i-sef u-sef, consistency
Yousef El-Magharbel's previous i-sef u-sef album, 2021's instrumental shaghara lemoune, states that its 11 jazzy, glitchy, funky songs were "entirely made on bassoon—harmonies, bass, drums, everything." That's not the case for 2022's consistency simply because the Ann Arbor artist is crooning on this album, using a breathy head voice that recalls the airy and mysterious singing of James Blake and Arthur Russell. Where shaghara lemoune hinted at avant-R&B, consistency is a clear statement that rhythmic soul music informs El-Magharbel's sound as much as Eastern-tinged jazz and the Western classical studies he likely undertook while studying bassoon. The clacky drums are simultaneously quirky and stiff, bordering on robotic, which contrasts nicely with the more swinging sound of his horn and the insular loveliness of his voice. El-Magharbel's vision for i-sef u-sef is singular, which is perhaps why he does everything himself, even dedicating the record to those who are "alone, and not lonely." But his uniqueness is starting to get noticed, so while El-Magharbel may remain alone in his creative process, he should be accompanied by a growing audience of admirers now that Bandcamp named i-sef u-sef's consistency as one of its best albums of 2022.


Dresden Codex, Abandoned Observatories EP
Ryan Anderson released his debut EP as Dresden Codex in 2014 and then went silent for eight years. Abandoned Observatories is the Ann Arbor musician's latest update to the pastoral, psychedelic sound he's explored for 30 years while playing in Füxa, Asha Vida, and other Michigan space-rock projects, but this time he's accompanied by New Jersey guitarist Van Kapeghian. The album bio states the duo was inspired by "Eno's Another Green World, Holger Czukay's radio transmissions, and other heroes of the analog age and that the six songs pay "homage to forgotten observation facilities, and the mechanics tasked with returning to repair them." This EP is the perfect soundtrack to accompany a pilgrimage to the University of Michigan's vintage Peach Mountain Observatory near Dexter.


Future Holograms, Pantomime
Ann Arbor's Adam Stolarczyk released 39 songs as Future Holograms on three albums between 2013-2017, but it took another four years to produce the 16 tracks on Volcano. But the electronic musician, whose songs float between chillwave and ambient house, only took a year to produce 16 more cuts for Pantomime, which came out on Ann Arbor's Caffeine Free Records, as did its predecessor. Stolarczyk is a talented producer, and while his albums are instrumental, I'd be curious to hear his catchy and melodic songs interpreted by a vocalist. I hear synth-pop hits.


Members of Ann Arbor's SAFA Collective are the creative forces behind HORSE BOMB, a chaotic quintet that would have fit into the Ypsilanti noise scene 20 years ago when Wolf Eyes were going strong there. These noiseniks specialize in broken-vacuum-cleaner sounds, so if you're not ready to have your brain sucked out by a Dyson on the fritz, don't listen to this turbulent live document.


labgrown podcast, season 0: the beta episodes
various artists, the harvest #1: a community challenge comp
various artists, the potluck: a 420 celebration comp

The music-focused labgrown podcast is based in Ypsilanti, and it sounds like all the artists on the show and its two compilations are friends and associates from the Soundcloud- / emo-rap world. It may be a micro-scene, but the podcast and artists are prolific in their output, including a series of performance videos on labgrown's YouTube channel.

Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.