Ki5 loops his voice to produce sunny songs in perfect harmony

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Ki5

Ki5 with the Huron River mic check. Photo courtesy of the artist.

During dark times, some of us turn to dark music. I've pretty much turned into an anarcho-punk goth who listens to heavy metal and gangster rap in my bedroom.

But if you're the type of person who needs music that will bring light to your life right now, Kyler Wilkins offers a luminous intensity that could guide ships in the night.

Recording as Ki5, this Ann Arbor native layers his vocals using BOSS looping and harmonizing pedals to create a one-man a capella group. Since November 2019, Ki5 has released three singles and one EP, and he provided vocals on the title track of Free From All the Walls, the debut release by the new Ann Arbor electronica project Mirror Monster. Ki5's most recent single is the earnest, inspirational, R&B-soaked "Hallelu," but he also just put out a video for his bright summer song "Sunny Days."

I emailed with Wilkins about his musical background, approach to songwriting, and the gear he uses to create his joyous music.

In-Sync Siblings: Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Isata Kanneh-Mason's concert for UMS

MUSIC REVIEW

Isata Kanneh-Mason and Sheku Kanneh-Mason

On October 25, siblings Sheku Kanneh-Mason (cello) and Isata Kanneh-Mason (piano) played a free concert exclusively for UMS from the music room of their home in Nottingham, England. Presented by U-M alum and NFL great Braylon Edwards, the concert was available to stream through November 4 on UMS’s website.

Sheku was supposed to play in Ann Arbor twice this year: once with the Chineke! Orchestra and another performance with the City of Birmingham Orchestra and Chorus but both performances were canceled. 

Like many others, I was introduced to Sheku Kanneh-Mason when he performed at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s 2018 royal wedding, an event watched by more than two billion people worldwide. During that performance, he played with an intense connection to his instrument that was admirable and captivating. Sheku's won the Classic Brit Award and the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Instrumentalist Duet Prize, and he's also released two albums to date, Inspiration and Elgar. Isata is also a wonderful artist who released her debut album, Romance, which topped the UK classical charts in 2019. She’s also currently a graduate scholar at London’s Royal Academy of Music. The duo and their five other siblings make up the classical group The Kanneh-Masons, once called the “world’s most talented family” by Simon Cowell. The group just released their first album, Carnival.

MC5 plays softball and Wayne Kramer re-records the band's "The American Ruse"

MUSIC

MC5 playing baseball in Ann Arbor

MC5 singer Rob Tyner demonstrates a very strong batting stance as, from the left, his comrades Fred "Sonic" Smith and Scott Morgan look on somewhere in Ann Arbor, 1970. Photo by Tom Wechsler.

Late yesterday afternoon I received an email promoting MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer's re-recording of his old band's political anthem "The American Ruse" off the group's 1970 debut, Back in the U.S.A.

I was very happy to get this email not because I thought "The American Ruse" needed to be remade, or because I wanted to post a political statement on election day; it meant I had a reason to post this photo of MC5 singer Rob Tyner in the batter's box.

On the far left—no pun intended—are MC5 guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith and next to him in the hat is The Rationals' leader Scott Morgan. (Smith and Morgan would later form Sonic's Rendezvous Band.)

The photo, which circulated on social media, was taken in 1970 by former Bob Seger roadie Tom Wechsler, who later released the book Travelin' Man: On the Road and Behind the Scenes with Bob Seger, which featured his pix of another Ann Arbor music legend.

The event was a Trans-Love Energies softball game somewhere in Ann Arbor, but numerous searches on Google Maps trying to locate exactly where the diamond was have turned up bupkis. 

Bootleg Washtenaw: Vulfpeck live at The Blind Pig, April 24, 2015 (plus a new LP)

MUSIC BOOTLEG WASHTENAW

Vulfpeck at The Blind Pig, 2015

An occasional series highlighting live recordings made in Washtenaw County.

Vulfpeck began in 2011 as students in U-M's school of music. Last year the band sold out Madison Square Garden, which you can watch here.

Between those extremes, the jammy funk band regularly played The Blind Pig, and the enthusiastic live-music guy known as DSA was there to document it with five cameras and a multitrack recording direct from the soundboard. The gig sounds and looks great, and Vulfpeck, as ever, has a lot of fun.

Now based in Los Angeles and sundry other locales, Vulfpeck also released a new album, The Joy of Music, the Job of Real Estate, on October 2020.

Check out The Blind Pig concert and stream The Joy of Music, the Job of Real Estate below:

Friday Five: Athletic Mic League, Mirror Monster, Kawsaki, Cyrano Jones, and Stormy Chromer

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five, October 30, 2020

Friday Five is where we celebrate new and recent music by Washtenaw County artists.

This week we feature hip-hop from Athletic Mic League, electronica by Mirror Monster and Kawsaki, fuzz-rock courtesy of Cyrano Jones, and original jams via Stormy Chromer. 

U-M Professor Stephen Rush debuts new choral work in the Quincy Mine

MUSIC

Quincy Iron Mine

On October 18, 2019, Stephen Rush mined the depths of his artistry to create the Invisible Quartet. The University of Michigan professor of performing arts technology debuted this new project in the Quincy Mine, in the Upper Peninsula town of Hancock, as part of a concert organized by Michigan Tech. But unless you lived up there, you couldn't see the concert; it wasn't streamed or recorded (or if it was, it hasn't been posted).

Because of Covid, this year's Music in the Mine concert on October 18 was a virtual event, which means not only was it livestreamed, it was archived on the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts
Visual and Performing Arts' YouTube channel.  

Works by six composers, including John Cage, were performed at the concert—you can read the program to find out more—but since we're all about Washtenaw creatives here at Pulp, we'll focus on Rush's piece, "Tattiriya Upanishad (excerpt)*."

For many years, Rush has been studied Indian music, and led trips to the country for his students, and the piece he debuted in the mine is based on the Hindu sacred text Upanishads. Dressed in hardhats and worker jumpsuits, the 24-voice conScience: Michigan Tech Chamber Singers sang the song of joy that Rush used as his inspiration for the piece. As he describes in the concert program:

The Genesis of "Abiro": Ben Willis and Dr. Pete Larson discuss the new animated video for the Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band

MUSIC FILM & VIDEO

Screenshot from the Abiro music video animation

 
A still from Ben Willis' animated video for Dr. Pete Larson and His Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band's song "Abiro."

This post contains mature content.

In Genesis 3:5, the snake convinced Eve to eat forbidden fruit: "your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."

Then God punished the snake for telling the truth and sharing the knowledge. 

But according to Larson 10:27:2020, a different story is told: And the man said of the serpent, "Snakes are just really cool."

And rather than kill the serpent, Dr. Pete Larson celebrated it.

He asked Detroit bassist and illustrator Ben Willis to animate a video featuring the slinky reptiles for "Abiro," a song off last summer's radiant, joyful, self-titled album by Dr. Pete Larson and His Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band, which mixes hypnotic Kenyan folk music with psychedelic rock. 

"There's not a culture on the planet—at least in temperate zones—that doesn't include snakes in its legends and folklore," said Larson, an epidemiologist with the University of Michigan who also runs the Dagoretti Records label. "Snakes are just this odd, mythical, and fantastic animal that's associated with evil and malevolence, but actually plays an incredibly important role in maintaining the balance of ecologies around the world."

Friday Five: Prhyme Rhyme Boss, Lily Talmers, The Portingales, The DayNites, and JDSY

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five, October 23, 2020

Friday Five is where we celebrate new and recent music by Washtenaw County artists.

This week we feature rapper Prhyme Rhyme Boss, jazz-tinged singer-songwriter Lily Talmers, Celtic-y folk from The Portingales, neo-R&B by The DayNites, and electronic weirdness courtesy JDSY. 

The first release from Blind Pig Records was 1973's lone single by The Vipers

MUSIC

The Vipers' Buzzard Luck 7-inch single cover

The Blind Pig is a renown rock club these days—especially after the ad that went viral last weekend—but for a long time it was also known as home of a blues label that shares the name. Blind Pig Records was sold and is now based in California, but the label's about page wrongly lists when it started: "From our humble beginnings in the basement of an Ann Arbor, Michigan blues club in 1977, Blind Pig Records has grown into one of the premier blues labels in the world."

The basement part is right, but as you can see below in the ad from the December 14, 1973, edition of the Ann Arbor Sun, Blind Pig Records debuted four years prior with a 7-inch single by the short-lived jump-blues band The Vipers.

Bootleg Washtenaw: Wipers, July 7, 1987, at The Blind Pig

MUSIC BOOTLEG WASHTENAW

Wipers

An occasional series highlighting live recordings made in Washtenaw County.

You may not know the music of cult group Wipers, but you've definitely heard songs by one of the group's biggest fans: Kurt Cobain.

In fact, you may even know two Wipers tunes through Nirvana covers: The 1992 tribute comp Eight Songs for Greg Sage and the Wipers (later expanded to Fourteen Songs ...) featured Cobain & Co. covering "Return of the Rat," while the Nirvana tour EP Hormoaning from the same year featured "D-7." Both songs come from Wipers' 1980 debut, Is This Real, which Sub Pop reissued in 1993.

The Wipers' tour that brought the trio to The Blind Pig on July 7, 1987, was for their fifth album, Follow Blind. The group would record one more record, 1988's The Circle, before calling it quits for six years. With the buzz created by Nirvana, Greg Sage reconvened the band for three more albums in the 1990s before stopping again—still a cult band.

Like Cobain, Sage was a left-handed guitarist who mixed distorted chords and dexterous lead lines. But where Cobain dealt with huge dynamics, Sage tended toward a nervy slow burn, with his hazy guitar sound—achieved through tube amps he built himself—providing a noise bed to support his wailing but distant vocals.

Wipers started in Portland, Oregon, but Sage has lived in Arizona for some time now, where he runs a recording studio and the Zeno Records label, which sells all the Wipers' albums plus two Sage solo LPs.

The Blind Pig recording sounds like an audience tape rather than from the soundboard, but it's pretty good quality.

Setlist and audio: