One of the most interesting stories coming out of the Michigan music scene these days is that of Ann Arbor’s flashpapr. Invited into existence in 1996, flashpapr began as a guitar-violin improvisational project but evolved over the years and through a growing friendship tempered by tragedy. Flashpapr make music out of the happenstance, the banality, of everyday, small-town Midwestern grayness. Sustained chords in sensible keys modulate and linger in reflective stares, broken by sudden awareness of room noises, impressionistic traffic and little sisters. Lyrics describe dirty kitchens and tacit longings for intimacy with family, and the musical and vocal performances are simple enough to elicit empathy in the I-could-do-that-(but-I-don’t) kind of way. It’s working class artistic ambition combined with a validation of shyness and self-alienation as resistance to the speed, intensity, dysfunction and disconnectedness of the greater outside world. It’s glorious -- depressing as all hell -- but glorious.
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