The day I landed in Detroit we drove over to Ann Arbor for the night, narrowly avoiding the first heavy snowfall of the season. Once there I was taken to what I was told was a warehouse party, fully expecting it to be like those I’d experienced in the UK. What I got instead was a warehouse, a disused office block actually, full of live bands and without a kick snare pattern or DJ in sight. The acts were local rock bands of all flavours, the vibe was convivial and the space as inviting as any standard live venue I’ve been to. At the end of the night the booker for the show pointed out that in recent years electronic and hip hop acts had taken over the local venues, pushing bands like these into the spaces I’d come to associate most with electronic music. There’s a bittersweet irony in that tale.
One of the acts I saw that night was Anonymous Touch, a band that features local producer Charles Trees (whom I featured recently on the Bandcamp column and who definitely has a place in this list too) and Ben Saginaw, Ann Arbor native and Detroit resident who makes a mean coffee when he’s not playing bass. Ben has another band project called Ritual Howls, alongside Paul Bancell and Chris Samuels. Their studio space is located in the shadows of the imposing GM downtown structure. They share the space with Ben’s brother, Shigeto, a large room filled with music equipment, books, random pieces of art (another of Ben’s passions) and the usual litter you’d associate with such a space.
Ritual Howls mix a traditional rock band set up with synths and samples. The result is a cavernous take on industrial, goth and other rock stylings. You can check their debut album via Bandcamp and look out for another release this year via the felte label, home to ERAAS, The Tower of Light, PVT and more.
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