Friday Five: First Tone, Liam Charron, Verzer.ren/Thynk, DÆmons, The Strange Theory of Light and Matter
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features drift music by First Tone, piano jazz from Liam Charron, minimalist techno via Verzer.ren/Thynk, and technical metal courtesy of DÆmons and The Strange Theory of Light and Matter.
First Tone, 1
If you're unfamiliar with the career of Washtenaw County's Duane Pitre, here's a gift link to a fab New York Times profile of the former pro skateboarder turned celebrated minimalist composer. First Tone is Pitre's collaboration with Turk Dietrich (Belong, etc.), who has recorded for kranky and Tresor, which combines the former's just intonation modalities with the latter's driftwork aesthetics. The music on their new album, 1, features two sketches for ideas that led to the duo's 2019 LP, Reactions on Spectrum Spools. The record's Bandcamp notes state, "1 does not exist to enhance an environment or to quell a personal state ...," but I must say, it quelled my personal state. I first listened to 1 while my face was on fire with pain after getting a crown on a tooth that's right next to another tooth with a still-aggravated crown. (Kids: BRUSH YOUR TEETH.) It felt like someone had backed a dump trunk on my head and I was feeling miserable, but a combination of painkillers and 1 on headphones, played on a loop, doused the inflamed nerves in my stupid left cheek. A recent study shows that listening to your favorite music can help alleviate pain and First Tone's 1 did just that. Gracias, amigos.
Liam Charron, Where We Are
I love when super-talented University of Michigan students take advantage of using the Duderstadt Center's recording studios. Pianist Liam Charron and fellow Wolverines Jack Nissen (bass) and Casey Cheatham (drums) laid down eight tracks at the state-of-the-art facility for their Where We Are album, mixing vintage jazz compositions with a few originals. The trio offers a lovely version of Thelonious Monk's "Pannonica," John Coltrane's Blue Train classic "Moment's Notice," and a gently swinging take on "Delfeayo," Wynton Marsalis' ode to his trombone-playing brother. Originals include Nissen's "Jackknife" (maybe distantly inspired by Jackie McLean's way more frenetic "Jacknife"?) and four by Charron: "Tree Song," "Whodunnit," "Don," and "Sandra Apollo."
Verzer.ren/Thynk, EELCRONITOIMUY ARIAM EP
Ann Arbor's Verzer.ren (Joe Bauer) and Rochester, Michigan's Thynk (Nick Gaydos) are core members of the North Coast Modular Collective, who are dedicated to bringing electronic music knowledge to anyone who wants to learn. They've paired up for five terrific minimalist techno tunes and an ambient closer on EELCRONITOIMUY ARIAM.
DÆmons, Streams of Variation
Ann Arbor's DÆmons has the memorable tagline "If Toto wrote Metal tunes" on its Bandcamp page. Except the one-man band really doesn't sound like that on its new album, Streams of Variation, which has no traces of adult-contemporary pop. But main man Steven Eiter is a monster when it comes to executing crushing technical death metal—and also fusion-based jazz, which makes me think of Cynic as one of DÆmons' closest analogs. Streams of Variation has 14 virtuosic tunes that will melt your synapses.
The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, Kilonova Nucleosynthesis EP
Meanwhile, Ann Arbor's The Strange Theory of Light and Matter vaguely does sound like Toto writing metal tunes. (I say that with peace and love because I, too, loved the blessed rains down in Africa.) That's simply because the project's use of synths is a little more pronounced than DÆmons', not because there's any chance we'll hear tech-metal versions of "Rosanna" or "Hold the Line" anytime soon. The A side of this single, "I. Supernova Nucleosynthesis," sounds more like an '80s action movie soundtrack; I can picture a mercenary group deep in the South American jungle packing explosives as they search for an alien lifeform. The second song, which gives the EP its title, provides the riff-tastic metal crunch and double-bass-drum machine guns that I remember from Strange Theory's previous releases.
Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.