Friday Five: kayaks collective, Henri Bardot, John Bunkley, Akinsa + Ikiryō, X-Altera


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 ambient by kayaks collective, piano miniatures by Henri Bardot, soulful ska by John Bunkley, tribal techno by Akinsa + Ikiryō, and drum 'n' bass by X-Altera.


kayaks collective, Dawn Choruses
Ann Arbor's 1473 label has its roots in Chicago, so it's no surprise head honcho Chien-An Yuan keeps finding gems on the other side of Lake Michigan. Teddy Schrishuhn and Phil Stosberg are the kayaks collective, and Dawn Choruses is nearly an hour of majestic live ambient improvisations inspired by nature. (The album title refers to the birdsong that fills many of our mornings.) Sometimes the works have a similar quality to the sounds produced by the generative-music apps Brian Eno co-created—i.e, the plinky bits that open the first track, "Rails." But the music then tends to unfold into spacious, celestial drones that will take you out of any negative headspace. Dawn Choruses is gorgeous.


Henri Bardot, Throwing Pt. 1
Face Down, the last album by Ann Arbor's Henri Bardot, gave off all sorts of Elliott Smith, Bon Iver, and Dashboard Confessional vibes. But Throwing Pt. 1 is an Erik Satie-esque exercise in late-night piano miniatures. These seven instrumentals were recorded in the middle of the night during a snowstorm this past winter, and the contemplative and serene nature of these pieces reflects that sense of haunted beauty.


John Bunkley, Dandy Shandy, War of Currents, and 47 Strings
John Bunkley is a Detroiter, but he has longtime ties to the A2 music scene and he's a librarian at the Ann Arbor District Library. Dandy Shady is his brand new album of ska, rocksteady, and reggae originals. While "Little Hazy" and "In My Complicated Mind" sound like lost 1960s pop-soul gems, the rest of Dandy Shandy explores the Jamaican styles Bunkley has been exploring ever since he co-founded Gangster Fun in 1986.

Playing catch-up here: In 2022, Bunkley released a soundtrack album for the film War of Currents, which I can't find anywhere. But the music is electronic and instrumental, using a cool mix of Detroit electro and moody melodies. War of Currents' "Transmissions" has more than a little Kraftwerk in its grooves, a musical influence Bunkley lays clear on 47 Strings, a 2024 six-song mini album he put on Soundcloud featuring instrumental versions of some of his favorite songs, including the German electronica pioneers' "Computer Love" as well as takes on The Specials' "Ghost Town," XTC's "Yacht Dance," The Stranglers' "Golden Brown," Ryuichi Sakamoto's "Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence," and Gary Numan's "Are 'Friends' Electric?" All the covers were made with a harp as the primary instrument, supported by cello, violin, and double bass.

Bim Skala Bim was a Boston contemporary to Gangster Fun, with both bands pulling from the 2 Tone scene in England as well as the first wave of 1960s Jamaican music, and Bunkley honored his buddies in 2023 with a cover of "Solitary Confinement" as part of the tribute album Bim Bam Boom Volume 1.

(Attention fans of Bunkley's 1990s band The Atomic Fireballs: There is no swing revivalism on any of these recordings.)


Akinsa + Ikiryō, "Dishonoured" and "Samurai"
Ypsi's AGN7 label continues to highlight artists from around the world who take inspiration from the 1990s drum 'n' bass and jungle scenes but put their own spins on a now-classic sound. I don't know anything about Akinsa or Ikiryō, but the they seem to have some association with the British Kurnugu label and have teamed up for these two techno-tribal bangers.


X-Altera, Groundswell EP
Mere weeks after his All Access No Excess EP under the JTC persona, Ann Arbor's Tadd Mullinix is back as X-Altera with this four-song EP focusing on drum 'n' bass save for the downtempo closer, "Citybound TV."

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