Friday Five: JTC, Tyvek, C.R. Odette, .SSJ, Zilched
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features leftfield acid house from JTC, garage-punk by Tyvek, quiet synth psychedelia by C.R. Odette, forward-looking R&B by .SSJ, and noise-pop via Zilched.
Ann Arbor's Tadd Mullinix has mostly focused on singles over the past few years, alternating between his drum 'n' bass-geared X-Altera persona and his more acid-house-fueled JTC moniker. (There are many more aliases, too.) So it's nice to have the full-length Intra.Actae, the latest banger on his Bopside label. The Bandcamp bio notes that the fifth album by JTC pushes the "essence" of his "prior acid explorations and takes it from irreverent leftfield techno to mutated hardcore experimentalism with grit and musicality that emanates from the ghosts of braindance." I'm not sure I can define what "ghosts of braindance" means but I understand, if you know what I mean. The tracks "Girl Squad V," "Intra.Acid," and "Core Research in Tekno Music" are closer to JTC's more acid-house-based past—squelchy electronics, industrial-informed beats—but the whole of the album is spookier, with downtempo cuts such as "Corpse Chime," "Kret Sentinel Basin," "Cavh," and "AuggBuel" adding a gauzy glow to the whole. Headphones are essential because there are so many cool details in Mullinix's productions.
Tyvek, Overground and BLUNT INSTRUMENTALS
Detroit's Tyvek is approaching its 20th year and guitarist-singer-mainman Kevin Boyer's creative flow is still a gusher. The band has always been a rotating cast, but the current version often features several current and former Washtenaw County creatives including Fred Thomas on drums, Emily Roll on sax, and Shelly Salant on guitar. Salant's label, Ginkgo Records, put out two Tyvek albums this year, including the brand new Overground, which features the aforementioned Washtenawtonians, along with bassist Alex Glendering (Deadbeat Beat), and May's BLUNT INSTRUMENTALS, with Salant switching to bass and Matt Z on drums. I imagine Tyvek is a blast of a band to be in with an emphasis on passion over precision. The rehearsals are probably loose, the jams are never-ending, and there's a joie de vivre to the group's manic, sprawling punk-garage musings. Overground features Boyer's sing-shouted vocals on all 11 tracks, and despite the name, BLUNT INSTRUMENTALS also features his clever, if sometimes abstract musings, on many songs.
C.R. Odette, Millett Sway
Another new Ginko Records is by C.R. Odette aka Samantha Flowers, a Detroit-based (I think) sound artist who also makes music in the experimental electronics duo Creode. Millett Sway is a hypnotic and insular synth exploration that sounds like meditation music coming out of a faulty speaker. The side-long tracks mix sacred succor and twilight hauntings in just the right measure.
On the heels of Chill Place's Lights in the Loft album, we have another great R&B record by Washtenaw County artists. University of Michigan students Joe Thomas, Stephen Oduro, and Sam Uribe Botero are .SSJ, but where Chill Place is all about romance, this trio employs humor and sass alongside its rubberband grooves. I'm not sure who does what in the band, but my guess is Oduro is the drummer laying down the buttery beats and I'm assuming Thomas is the person with the sweet, soulful croon. Botero is going to be an in-demand producer wherever he goes after his U-M sojourn ends. He has been involved with some of the best music to come out of the area in recent years, particularly the orchestral indie-rock collective Kingfisher, and .SSJ is another feather in his cap. All 12 tracks on Sanctified groove to their own inner metronomes, mixing leftfield structures and quirky sounds within an R&B framework. It's forward-thinking music that will be instantly identifiable to anyone. So good. ("Thinkin' Bout U" also features Adam Wooten, who may also be the former Wolverine gymnast? There are too many talented people at the school to keep track of everyone.)
Zilched, WCBN-FM's Tiny Cage, episode 10
Detroit noise-poppers Zilched stopped by WCBN-FM recently to record a live session for the University of Michigan radio station's Tiny Cage series, which evokes the heyday of community access cable TV from the VCR era.
Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.