Despite the clouds of uncertainty that seem to have descended over the DEMF, if we focus on the music instead, then things are, as they say, all good. One object of hope floating around this year’s festival is the first release from Omoa Music consisting of three tracks and simple, very cool packaging.
Track one is titled “First Off (Dub Version)” and comes from Dapp, which is Scott Zacharias (former drummer for Ann Arbor’s Monaural, now a top-flight local DJ) and Matt Chicoine (best known for his work as Recloose for Planet E). Good things tend to occur when well-known musician/DJs team up; in this case it’s a hand-clapped rhythm and a low-key trip through the vaults of classic Detroit techno. Next is Marc Alphonse’s “Contentment in Humidity,” which — with horns and synths floating amid head-bobbing drum and bass — comes off sounding a bit like a modern trip through Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain. The final excursion comes from Ayro, an alias for Jeremy Ellis of Jazzhead and Jazzanova fame. “Let This” features deft keyboard and vocals from Ellis over an infectious breakbeat.
As a means of introduction, the best aspect of Omoa Music’s Sampler One is in establishing mood and a general aesthetic, whetting your appetite for future releases. On these three tracks alone, however, the artists seem to acknowledge the wide-open expectations of ’80s Detroit while still looking to push the genre into the future. Sometimes being aware and having good taste is enough, and with all the attention on Detroit, it will be interesting to see for how long labels such as Omoa stay on the periphery.
Ayro performs Monday at 7 p.m. and Jeremy Ellis performs as part of Jazzanova Saturday at 9 p.m. Omoa Music’s co-founder Maersk performs at the DEMF Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Omoa Music Sampler One is available in limited quantities at www.omoamusic.com.
Aaron Warshaw is the MT listings editor. E-mail him at [email protected].