Friday Five: Jienan Yuan, Dabrye, Janelle Haskell, Jonathan Killstring, marto.matic


Friday Five 01-19-2024

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

This week features minimalist beauty from Jienan Yuan, a beat-tape teaser by Dabrye, fingerstyle folk by Janelle Haskell, retro-wave by Jonathan Killstring, and experimental musings by marto.matic.


Jienan Yuan, Your Wave Persists 
The artist otherwise known as Chien-An Yuan is one of Ann Arbor's most interesting polymaths—in a town that's full of them. His latest creative project is an album, Your Wave Persists, which "began an act of remembrance," he writes, "to honor the memory of those I’ve lost that eventually emerged into a collection of sounds that I hope can help listeners process loss in their own lives." The 12 delicate, ambiance-filled tracks feel like memorials, and the title track—along with its alternate version released in September—is dedicated to Riyuichi Sakamato, a titan of electronic music who died in March 2023. But the purpose of this music isn't just for by-the-fireside contemplation: four of the tracks were commissioned for dance/performance pieces.

Yuan celebrated the album's January 19 release a day earlier with a concert at Ann Arbor District Library's Downtown location, performing altered versions of Your Wave Persists compositions as well as collaborating with two local poets, Kyunghee Kim and Sherina Rodriguez Sharpe, who did powerful readings of pieces based on loss. When Yuan took the stage he joked, "Here come the sads," but it's kind of a warning, too: If you're feeling at all vulnerable before listening to the performance—especially the part with the poets—have a handkerchief nearby. The concert starts about 13 minutes into the video with a set by Joo Won Park; Yuan's performance begins around 30 minutes. Put on your headphones and cry.


Dabrye, "The Most Deliciousest"
Ann Arbor's Tadd Mullinix returns to his Dabrye persona for Super-Cassette, an instrumental beats collection that's out March 8. At just one minute and 25 seconds, the first single is the briefest nibble of a record that should be very tasty.


Janelle Haskell, This Is Me 
Jazz fans know Ann Arbor's Janelle Haskell as a mega-talented saxophonist and clarinetist who has kept bandstands busy in Southeast Michigan and New York City where she lived for a time. So it was quite a surprise to see Haskell playing fingerstyle guitar on the cover of her new album, This Is Me, which consists of 10 personal songs inspired by the styles of Joni Mitchell and James Taylor. But fear not, Jazz Janelle fans, she's still playing the reeds and even overdubs the instruments in several places on this album, which is otherwise just her voice and acoustic guitar. Haskell sings about her decision to leave NYC and return to her home state in "Michigan," which features her on clarinet, and "All the Right Ways" offers saxophone accompaniment.


Jonathan Killstring, Let's Have An Adventure Instead and "Evermore"
Despite consistently releasing music, Ann Arbor's Jonathan Killstring has mostly escaped my radar save for a brief mention in 2019 of one of his earlier albums. This instrumental five-song EP is big with retro-wave synth vibes, but Killstring makes all sorts of music—and videos, including this wordless vocal track and clip from two years ago that is both beautiful and a bit ominous.


marto.matic, "Open Condom" and "something is wrong"
When not playing in the indie rock band Great Arm, Ypsilanti's Marisela/Marty Casillas explores lo-fi folk on "Open Condom" and spooky cutups on "something is wrong" as marto.matic.

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