Friday Five: Tetra Music Project, Big Chemical, Cracked & Hooked, Brad Phillips, Calculated Beats collective
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features meditative electronica by Tetra Music Project, folk-pop by Big Chemical, rock 'n' roll by Cracked & Hooked, a ballad by Brad Phillips, and a compilation from the Calculated Beats collective.
Tetra Music Project, Open Skies
Tetra Music Project's Facebook page describes its sound as "Live Electronic Music for dance and meditation," but I want to add one more option: spa therapy. Ypsilanti's Kim Tetra Wiesner is the person behind the project, and Open Skies is her latest exploration of all things chill. The five songs here are primarily instrumental save for the EP's poppiest tune, "Open Skies," which features Wiesner crooning a simple chorus, and the music exists somewhere between smooth jazz, the ambient techno of The Orb, and just a touch of prog-rock thanks to Wiesner layering echo-laden guitar across the otherwise electronic-based tracks. Tetra Music Project has been an ongoing concern for several years now and Wiesner has a fab back catalog of recordings and DJ mixes to mellow you out.
Cracked & Hooked, Wonder Out Of Your Mind
Cracked & Hooked started as David Freund's one-man project during the pandemic, but as the world started to open, so did the band's personnel. Wonder Out of Your Mind, which was recorded at Grove Studios in Cracked & Hooked's home base of Ypsilanti, features lead guitarist Alistair Dickinson, bassist Andrew Peck, drummer Brad Perkins, and Freund on rhythm guitar and vocals. The eight songs here are straight-up rock 'n' roll, evoking both the glammy riffs of Mott the Hoople and The Replacements' loose swagger.
Brad Phillips, "Dance Again"
In 2021, violinist/guitarist/mandolinist Brad Phillips released Ridella's Cave - The Liberty Street Sessions, a 14-song collection composed for The Purple Rose Theater's 2019 production of Arthur Miller's All My Sons. Phillips was the Purple Rose's artist-in-residence at that time, and his new single also emanates from a play connected to the Chelsea-based theater company. He wrote the folky soft-rocker "Dance Again" for the 2018 debut production of Willow Run, but at that point, the tune only had two verses and a chorus; the version released in 2023 is just over five minutes long. My fellow Pulp purveyor, Lori Stratton, interviewed the Saline-raised U-M jazz studies graduate about "Dance Again" over on her personal publication, The Stratton Setlist.
Big Chemical, "Tomato" and "Weekend Moment Blues" video.
Big Chemical started out as a solo project for U-M student Alec Bertoy, but the group expanded to a quartet to play live shows, and I think "Tomato" is the ensemble's first recording together. Based on this single, the additional musicians didn't change Big Chemical's sound—"Tomato" is another winsome take on folky power-pop. "Weekend Moment Blues" actually came out in May 2021, so I imagine it's a Bertoy solo joint, but I missed the tune and its animated video when it came out.
Various Artists, Calculated Beats: Calculations #4
Calculations #4 is the latest compilation in a series by the primarily Ypsi-based production and art collective Calculated Beats, which mostly specializes in acid-jazz-inflected ambient hip-hop. But Hollow Shaman's "Haven" is a juicy shoegaze rocker and Restore/'s "/Release" is emo-tronica, mixing screaming guitarists, passionate vocals, and glitchy electronics. Half Blue is one member of Calculated posse, and he appears on half of this comp's 12 tracks, but he also released his debut album, In Bloom, on the last day of last month.
Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.