Friday Five: Martin Babl, KUZbeats, MEMCO mixes, Tried, Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds


Cover art for the albums and singles featured in the Friday Five.

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

This week features keyboard and synth explorations by Martin Babl, cinematic composition channeled via KUZbeats, two MEMCO dance mixes, melodic hardcore by Tried, and a country-tinged rocker by Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds.


Martin Babl, In dieser Wirklichkeit sind wir Freunde
Ypsilanti's Martin Babl knows anybody writing about his new album will mention 1970s German cosmic-keyboard music as an inspiration, so he headed off us hacks and titled the record not in English but auf Deutsch. (It translates to In this reality we are friends.) Using the minimalist setup of a Korg Mono/Poly synth, Yamaha CP-20 electric piano, and MXR Digital Delay, Babl created two sides of music that clock in at a shade under 25 minutes each. The title track flows as one piece, moving from buzzing drones to twinkling arpeggios, but the hissier second side works more as a series of eight miniatures placed side by side without too much concern with transitions. (Each section has its own name, too, but they're not defined as separate tracks.) RIYL: Cluster, Popol Vuh.


KUZbeats, "Dunegrass Pentalogy" and "ShyBorg"
Ann Arbor's Michael Kuzmanovski is a drummer, so a lot of his music as KUZbeats sounds built from the rhythm on up. But the first beats on the nearly 10-minute-long "Dunegrass Pentalogy" don't occur until the song is about two-thirds over and they last little more than a minute. The rest of the piece evokes the tense repetition of Steve Reich, mainly through piano phrases but eventually strings, ukelele, and synths join the party. KUZbeats releases a lot of singles and most have a cinematic vibe to them. "Dunegrass Pentalogy" also has a filmic feel, but more for a quirky, animated flick than a widescreen epic.

STOP THE PRESS: Another KUZbeats song showed up just as this column was about to be printed on the world's biggest digital paper roll, the World Wide Web. "ShyBorg" is a manic synth-pop song that features vocals—and it's a complete 180 from "Dunegrass Pentalogy."


Fantishow, Exposure Mix 059
M-Achina, Exposure Mix 060

Pretty sure Friday Five should be named "MEMCO and Others" because it seems like a mix from the (University of) Michigan Electronic Music Collective shows up here every other week. Or as is the case this week, two mixes. Most MEMCO mixes are created specifically for the Exposure series, but Fantishow's contribution is from a party he DJ'd deep in the woods of northern Michigan on July 29 and features "acid house, techno, and adjacent genres, as well as some of my own tracks," he wrote on MEMCO's Instagram account. M-Achina's mix is harder-edged than Fantishow's playful blend, focusing on the more robotic side of techno and trance. Both are worth savoring.


Tried, Demo
Ann Arbor's Tried hits a sweet spot between the chuggier side of hardcore and its more melodic counterpart, emo. All four songs on Demo have vocal hooks big enough to induce you to sing along, but there's also enough aggression in the guitar riffs to fire up the circle pit.


Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds, "Rebel in My Veins"
Ann Arbor's Erin Zindle opted to release several singles this year rather than a full album. Her latest release with The Ragbirds, "Rebel in My Veins," evokes the heavier direction heard on the second half of February's "New Story," mixing rock riffs with a chorus that wouldn't sound out of place on modern-country radio.

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