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Th: Michigan Daily Thursday, October 25, 1984
Vollenweider brings harp to
By Byron Bull.
When Swiss electroharpist/composer
Andeas Vollenweider and his small en-
semble take to the Power Center stage
tonight they'll be treading new musical
turf, but very softly. Vollenweider, a
talented young musician who has
modified the harp mechanically and
electronically, creates pretty, dreamy
music that has been mislabeled as
everything from jazz to classical to pop,
but really defies easy categorization.
Vollenweider's work is closely akin
to that of what is generally referred to
as "new age music", in a style that puts
him in between pianist George Winston
and ambient experimenter Brian Eno.
Vollenweider's music is comprised of
melodic, rhythmic streams of semi-
lyrical passages. It is gentle, and sub-
tlely exotic, encompassing a wide
variety of ethnic styles. At times it is
very reminiscient of Japanese classical
music, or Afro-Cuban and certainly
Carribean, but it's always shifting,
never immediately identifiable as one
or the other.
The styles that Vollenweider plays in,
and the way he coaxes different sounds
from his harp, are just as widely eclec-
tic. Vollenweider tends to use the harp
as either a bass or a percussion in-
strument, and often it's nearly im-
possible to tell his fake bass or
quasisteel drums from the genuine
thing. At other times Vollenweider can
be heard deftly imitating the sound of a
flamenco guitar, only to switch abrup-
tly but smoothly to something that
sounds very much like a Chinese cheng.
Eccentric, but Vollenweider pulls it off.
Some critics charge that Vollen-
weider's music is too loosely struc-
tured, and closer to muzak in charac-
ter. Vollenweider himself, who learned
to play the harp purely by experimen-
ting with it, insist that he's merely
more interested in striking a listeners
emotions than in challenging them in-
tellectually with aural mathematics.
Vollenweider originally emerged in
Europe as a cult figure, and rapidly
grew in popularity to the point of selling
millions of copies of his albums.
Stateside he is just beginning to make
an impression, though he has already
attracted a solid following. Copies of his
Behind The Gardens album sold an im-
pressive 60,000 copies, purely on word-
of-mouth advertising. Tonight's per-
formance at the Power Center should
provide an interesting glimpse at this
new breed of musician whose art is still
in the early stages of blooming.
Andreas Vollenweider brings his unique electric harp to the Power Center.this Thursday night at 8:00.
Taj Mahal still singin
By Andy Weine
Boy, those blues can sure get to you
and that's what happened to the two
capacity audiences who heard Taj
Mahal deliver what was probably the
blusiest blues to roll through Ann Arbor
in a long time at the Ark Tuesday night.
Bob Brozman opened the concert
with more fast-paced and rag-oriented
blues than Mahal's. Brozman began
painting the concert blue on metal
acoustic guitars, which he proceeded to
deftly pick, strum, slap, knock, spin,
twirl, and-get this-play with out-
stretched arms behind his head.
Brozman sparked what was a first-
rate show. Mahal moved onto stage
with his powerful size that reminds you
of the actual Taj Mahal in India. He
sang with a breathy, hoarse voice that
well suits his style of music. Most of the
time, he used an amplified acoustic
guitar that had an electric, tinny
sound, but the tone wasn't so modern
that it electrified the slow, rambling
quality of the blues.
That quality came across fully in all
his songs, beginning with what is
perhaps his best, "Dust My Broom," a
sky-pitched blues .hat went, "Got the
sunshine on my brow, gon' be my lucky
day. . . "Another light tune that went,
"Love you baby, love you like a
schoolboy love blueberry pie," had him
kissing his guitar and whistling happily
like he was walking down a country
road, feelin' groovy.
More in the pitch of midnight blue
was a wailing ditty that moaned, "Got
the blues so bad. . . Put my face in' a
With his, warm nature and good
humor, Mahal proved the blues to pe
contagious. It wasn't long before the
audience wa singing along, and then
imitating Mahal by wailing, grunting,
howling, croaking, and even barking,
throughout a song mourning the death
of a lazy rooster. y
As Mahal said, "This music is for
participation. If you want to walk outta
here with the concert welded to your
soul, sing it!"
About half of the songs he played
See TAJ, Page 7
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