Friday Five: Justin Walter, fling ii, counter magic, The City Lines, Nightkin


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 evocative electronics by Justin Walter, modular synth miniatures by fling ii, indie rock by counter magic and The City Lines, and blackened death metal by Nightkin.


Justin Walter, Destroyer
I've seen trumpeter Justin Walter play 1920s-style jazz, Afro-beat, Miles Davis electric period jazz-rock, hard bop, indie pop, and more. But the music he makes for his recordings has little to do with jazz or even his primary instrument. The Ann Arbor-ite's preferred music maker for his albums on the kranky label is the EVI, a breath-driven electronic instrument that allows Walter to create synth sounds that evoke ambient rooms at a rave rather than a jazz club. No surprise that the 11 pieces on Walter's latest EVI-focused album, Destroyer, sound great on headphones, with Walter's lovely melodies and background layers seeping into your ears like honey. (He pulls out the trumpet on  "Fear 17" and it makes me want to hear even more of Walter playing in a Jon Hassell-esque setting.)


fling ii, cheap heat 001 EP
Ann Arbor's Brad Gowland makes modular synth music as fling ii, and he's started a series of releases under the moniker cheap heat to document his various sketches. As pro wrestling fans know, "cheap heat" is when a villain does something easy—such as insulting a local sports team—to get the crowd to boo him or her. I have no idea what pro wrestling or cheap heat has to do with modular synth improvisations that evoke the Blade Runner soundtrack, but it felt good to get that out of my system and I look forward to hearing more from fling ii.


counter magic, CM2
The indie rock on counter magic's CM2 sounds like it was recorded with the instruments plugged directly into the computer but rendered with a lo-fi filter, which sounds counterintuitive. Released by Ann Arbor's Safa Collective, the 20 tracks on CM2 feel more like demos because of the aesthetics, but most Safa releases aren't concerned with audio specifics, either. The collective is all about documenting creativity, and counter magic has plenty of it.


The City Lines, "Far Enough" video
We published a long interview with City Lines' songwriter and Ann Arbor firefighter Pat Deneau back in June not long after the indie-rock band's latest album, the terrific Analog Memories, came out; go read it. The group recently released a video for the record's latest single, which has a deceptively quirky rhythmic sense along with a singalong chorus.


Nightkin, Nox Æterna
My main man and fellow library employee Matt Gauntlet is a tremendous guitarist and has played in many metal bands, including Nightkin. He's also become an audio wiz, so he took his old band's debut record, 2013's Nox Æterna, and remastered it so you can hear every thrashy, blackened death-metal riff as if Gauntlet was sitting on your shoulder and shredding. (Also available for purchase and listening on Bandcamp.)

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