Friday Five: Kelly Moran, OVVR, Mirror Monster, Electrifying Audiences, Dre Dav
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features emotive piano by Kelly Moran, R&B hip-hop by OVR, electronic instrumental pop by Mirror Monster, post-punk synths by Electrifying Audiences, and rap by Dre Dav.
Kelly Moran, Vesela EP
If Kelly Moran's Vesela EP were released in the 1980s, it would be called "new age music"—likely as a pejorative. But Moran's gorgeous new release was dubbed "emotive piano" by her label, Warp Records, one of the most legendary electronic music labels ever, and it's part of the gradual re-evaluation of the new-age genre. In 2023, new-age styles have found a fresh audience, from highly trained musicians such as Moran—a graduate of the University of Michigan and University of California—to labels such as Light in the Attic and tastemakers at Pitchfork. The title track is a Satie-inspired piano meditation, the "Soft Focus" single could easily be slotted into Sirius XM's Spa channel, and the final song, "Medusa," features variations on a theme by Ryuichi Sakamoto, the electronic-music titan who passed away in March.
OVVR, MISFORTUNE 734
Are we in the neo-golden age of Washtenaw County R&B? OK, I don't know what that sentence means either, but there have been a number of high-quality R&B-steeped releases in the past few years, including 2023 jams by .SSJ, Chill Place, and now OVVR's MISFORTUNE 734. The music on this six-track EP seems to be from the mind of producer Matthew Houck, mostly recorded at the Fuller Apartments in Ann Arbor, with guest vocalists and rappers handling the words. I haven't dug into the lyrics, but the Bandcamp bio states this is a concept record about "peer pressure and cancel culture."
Mirror Monster, "WAVECLAW/RAVESAW"
Ann Arbor's David Minnix and Michael Skib have eschewed lyrics and electronic-pop song structures from their prior releases on this new Mirror Monster double A-side single. Instead, they've opted for two doses of headphone psychedelics in the form of a glitchy and twitchy "WAVECLAW" and its aptly named dancey companion "RAVESAW."
Electrifying Audiences, With Their Fabulous Delusions of Grandeur
Ann Arbor's David Holtek took the gift of a Yamaha PSR-185 keyboard—a bog-standard consumer synth from the early 2000s—and rather than just throw it in the closet with other instruments of limited use, he took up the challenge and composed nine songs with it for his latest Electrifying Audiences release. There's an unpolished element throughout With Their Fabulous Delusions of Grandeur that gives it a vintage aura of a time when post-punk synth-heads would record and release albums on their home four-tracks, releasing the music on home-dubbed cassettes. You could probably send this album to a few modern labels who specialize in reissuing these sorts of lost records and say, "This mysterious cassette came out of a private press label in the English Midlands circa 1983" and nobody would be the wiser.
Dre Dav, "Jiggy" featuring O.T. Genasis
Ann Arbor rapper Dre Dav is a prolific recording artist, but it's been a minute since we've heard from him. He's now back with his latest NSFW single with special guest O.T. Genasis, who once had record deals with labels run by G-Unit and Busta Rhymes.
Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.