Todd Osborn Michigan Dream
Detroit-based Ghostly/Spectral Sound affiliate Todd Osborn is one of contemporary electronic music’s true characters and […]
Detroit-based Ghostly/Spectral Sound affiliate Todd Osborn is one of contemporary electronic music’s true characters and renaissance men. Equally at home building hovercrafts or flying airplanes as he is at making jungle as Soundmurderer, house as Osborne, arena metal as Musk, or acid with Tadd Mullinix as TNT, Osborn’s restless, eccentric character makes him a truly fascinating personality. The idea for this EP, on the nascent Brooklyn label Blueberry Records, came about during a visit that label boss Drew Lustman (a.k.a. FaltyDL) made to Detroit in 2012. During Lustman’s stay, his friend Osborn, in typically flamboyant style, picked him up in “his converted Police Cruiser with spot light” and took him to his house “to listen to unreleased joints by him and his heroes.”
The title of this EP (which seems to have been chosen at Lustman’s behest) would seem to encapsulate the effects that time spent in Osborn’s enviable parallel world of fun and creativity can have on someone. It certainly seems that Lustman left the Motor City bubbling with ideas for the future, and in the months that followed, he made the decision to launch Blueberry Records and officially make the jump from producer to label owner. So far, the imprint has released a couple of well-received records by Brrd and also has Luke Vibert and Dego on its schedule for the coming months; simply put, it’s shaping up as a label to keep a close eye on. The Michigan Dream EP offers a brilliant combination of diversity and quality, and will do Blueberry’s fast-growing reputation no harm at all.
Calling Michigan Dream diverse is actually much too mild a description—it’s difficult to imagine that a more stylistically varied record by a single artist will be released anywhere this year. Opener “5tep” is a fabulously jacking slice of vocal house that comes with a suitably old-school video in the vein of Bobby Conn’s “Never Gonna Get Ahead” or Scuba’s “NE1BUTU.” “What Is Love,” by contrast, plunges us without warning or mercy into a landscape of ominous, k-hole techno, with an incomparably detached, unfeeling vocal repeating the title over metallic shards of synth and menacing bass.
“Michigan Dream” shatters this darkness as quickly as it was ushered in. A romantic, sun-bleached outing, it starts out on a foundation of head-in-the-clouds falsetto vocals and languid percussion and gradually swells into a symphonic rush of soaring chords. Closer “752am” is billed as “braindance” on the press sheet, and it’s difficult to argue with that description. A lolloping, sparky melee of acidic bass, claps, and sweet tendrils of synth, it could easily be the work of Global Goon, Bochum Welt, or several other Rephlex Records alumni. This being Todd Osborn, it pretty much goes without saying that each of the highly disparate styles he visits on this release is realized with an equally effortless style. Some artists do their best work when presented with limits, but Osborn seems to flourish when he’s not subject to the clutches of gravity, genre, and expectations.