Years ago, I knew this crazy Serbian poet/philosopher. With his flowing beard and hair and world-weary grimace, give him about ten years and a few more misfortunes and he’d look like Zeus. He showed me several books he had written in the 1990s, when the country was under sanctions and an occasional target of “smart” bombs, dumb bombs and small arms fire from gangsters as well as enemy soldiers. I was astonished that one could be so productive in such circumstances. “It’s nothing really,” Zeus said. “When everything around you is shit you start to look inside.”
I don’t know how else to explain the continuing musical output coming from Detroit, a city lampooned by pundits in bow ties and mocked by late night comics for its struggles. For all of those troubles, I can’t name another city that doesn’t envy Detroit for its art and the flowering of creativity taking place in the shadow of poverty, crime and urban decay.
Jay Daniel takes us on a short cultural tour, an odyssey of sorts through the emerging sounds of Detroit electronic music circa 2013. Alternately abrasive and gentle, deceptively simple and dizzyingly complex, Scorpio Rising on Sound Signature is a useful introduction to what’s really been happening on a human level while the mainstream media focused on bond insurance, property values and horror porn. The quiet synths punctuated by thunderclaps of percussion on “No Love Lost” almost mirrors the indie rock formula (loud/quiet/loud) with electronic machines; this track is my jam but I suspect I may be in the minority. “Brainz” is the liveliest track, driven by a fury of drums and percussion; “I Have No Name” is twitchy and dark and also on the noisy end. “Bubble Cougar” is quiet and serene, light and jazzy, and with “No Love Lost” I could play these two in a loop forever and drown without complaint.