The Michigan Daily
Thursday, February 23, 1989
BY MICHAEL PAUL FISCHER
A hot avant-garde combo, on the road in sup-
port of a new album blazing up the charts, takes
to the stage wearing spiked haircuts, psychedelic
costumes, and sunglasses. Cranking out a set of
brand-new tunes, the San Francisco-based outfit
employ a colorful light show and stage props in
their effort answer the unprecedented expectations
generated by a recent three-page write-up in
Rolling Stone. Ultimately, the group encores by
kicking out a version of Hendrix's "Purple Haze"
- or perhaps a James Brown medley, articulated
by a eight-foot robot.
This is one string quartet which simply kicks
Yes; I said a string quartet. Abandon all of
your preconceptions (and formal attire). The
world's most unusual string quartet is alto -
according to composers and critics alike - the
"A great work of art is a very dangerous
thing," says violinist/spokesman David Harring-
ton; and his group, the Kronos Quartet, are now
emerging as no less than the Sex Pistols of the
broad genre we classify through the misnomer
"classical music"- while paradoxically exercis-
ing their iconoclastic revival in one of the
genre's more customarily staid formats.
Kronos was a god in Greek myth who cas-
trated his father and then later devoured his own
children. The title suggests not only this ensem-
ble's rebellious stance - "I don't really want to
be involved with the excess cultural baggage that
generally goes with serious art music in our so-
ciety," Harrington says - but also the sense of
a chronology. Stripping off the surface preten-
sions of their genre to ignite the basic thrill of
musical adventure, Kronos' shocking ascent to
world prominence and popularity (their records
sell 15 times the average for ensemble record-
ings) is leading classical styles into the future of
Levelling all barriers, Kronos will play any-
thing - ranging from works by composers like
early 20th century atonalist Anton Webern to
jazzman Ornette Coleman or John Lurie of pop
group The Lounge Lizards - anything, that is,
as long as it was not written before this century.
For to answer the public's demand for a lovely
Haydn quartet would be to entertain through
comforting the listener with the familiar. The
dangerousness of which Harrington eagerly
speaks is the adventure of the unexpected.
Even the learned will have never before heard
at least two of the four pieces scheduled for
tonight's Michigan Theatre performance with
British vocal quartet Electric Phoenix: William
Brooks' De Harmonium, a meditation on order
adapted from the "fictive music" of poet Wallace
Stevens, and John Zorn's Cat 0' Nine-Tails, a
work inspired by cartoon soundtracks. Kronos'
appetite for the new has led the group to premiere
an unprecedented 400 quartets in the ten years
since the current line-up solidified (violinists
John Sherba and Harrington, violist Hank Dutt,
and cellist Joan Jeanrenaud). Further, Kronos
uses grants to commission new works, some-
times collaborating with the composers.
While Electric Phoenix, without any domestic
recordings of their own, are relatively unknown,
radio programs of their concerts demonstrate an
artistic vision and technical virtuosity that are
equally astounding. Employing backing tapes and
electronics, vocalists Daryl Runswick, Judith
Rees, Meriel Dickinson, and Terry Edwards, and
sound engineer John Whiting are to the vocal
quartet what Kronos are to strings - champions
of innovative new composers seeking to
incorporate world motifs and methods, using
their instruments along with new technology to
conjure breathtaking sonic pictures.
Here I am, a musical illiterate, getting all
psyched up for a string ensemble gig! And no
matter what you already enjoy, this kind of vi-
sionary genius, the technical brilliance and daring
gestures, - the thrill of great art - will blow
you away. And especially if you don't know
what the hell's going on.
KRONOS QUARTET and ELECTRIC
PHOENIX will perform at the Michigan Theater
at 7:57 pm. tonight. Tickets are $16.50, $7.50
with student I.D.
DJ Simonian mixes it up here, on road
BY ROLLIE HUDSON
LOCAL radio/club DJ Tom Simo-
nian - of Reggae Night, New Mu-
sic fame - seems to have not only
persistence and hard work on his
side, but luck as well. He began do-
ing both his radio and club DJ
shows almost by serendipity - a
college music director at Couzens
Hall suggested that he do a show at
WCBN in 1976, and later he came
upon a U-Club vacancy.
Simonian graduated the Univer-
sity in the late '70s with a ra-
dio/television degree, but says that
most of his learning took place out-
side the classroom. By the mid-'80s,
his learning developed into a multi-
media repertoire of four radio shows
at WEMU and WCBN, weekend
dance nights at the U-Club, and a co-
music directorship at WCBN.
Simonian, who cites the Beatles
and Mott the Hoople as several of
his early musical idols, agreed to
share his thoughts on the business
over coffee. He showed a trace of
shyness behind his black coat and
dark curly hair as he painted a por-
trait of his life as an avant guardian.
He spoke in a reflective voice - as
if were working something out.
D: Can you speak some on your
career as a DJ?
S: Sure. Being a DJ is many
things. I'm always interested in new
things, new ideas. I want to get into
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production and even touring. I'm
scheduled to party in New York at
The World and after that I'm off to
England. In Detroit I've DJ'd at the
Music Institute, which - not
meaning to toot my own horn -
the British magazine Faces continu-
ally refers to as "one of the top 50
clubs in the world."
D: Besides reggae, what type of
music might you play while you are
S: I'm not sure exactly, but...
over at CBN I'm doing a free form
show called Dancing in Your Head.
It features avant-garde jazz, but has
more of a World Music mix and
even moves into experimental terri-
tory such as William H. Burrows
running sine waves through pieces
of paper and other such things.
Third World Dance Party, another
show of mine, has music from the
Caribbean and Africa mostly. There
are so many different kinds of
African music, so many different
cultures. Ironically, there is probably
the most American sound in South
Africa. It might have something to
do with all of the jazz acts which
toured there in the early part of this
From time to time I add some
blues, hip-hop, or raga-muffin' to
the mix. I also started doing a show
at EMU called New Directions
which was an avant-garde jazz show.
In '84 I started New Music Night
from my "punk" interests. The Sex
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1000 Cranes' four members try to adapt to each others's sounds in
their slightly more "serious" music.
1000 Cranes strive-
for unique sound
BY FORREST GREEN
1000 Cranes, past, present, and future: In the spring of 1986, a band
called Caf6 Society formed in Detroit, their intent being to create a unique
music form - even though they are influenced by English music, and
reminiscent of Simple Minds.
The band was forced to change its name to 1000 Cranes last January
because of another group called Cafd Society, based in New York. The
band's first major performance was at Rick's American Caf6, in the sum-
mer of their first year, but they have gradually become a favorite at St.
Andrew's Hall, and have opened for acts such as Marshall Crenshaw and
the Bolshoi. They have also done benefits for AIDS and the homeless.
1000 Cranes attempts to be a band in the truest sense of the word, with
equal input from all four members. Each musician writes his own part,
with the intent to adapt each others' personalities to each other, creating a
unique music form. Their sound is geared to a large audience, but they
identify it as a "little more serious" than their contemporaries'.
In this sense, they succeed. Despite the driving pulse formed by drum-
mer Tom Jachman and bassist David Jachman, their overall sound is
mesmerizing. Songs like "Waiting" and "While the City Sleeps" allow
you to lose yourself in the music; that's just how engaging it is.
1000 CRANES will perform at the U-Club tonight at 10 p.m. Admis-
sion is $3 and the show is sponsored by UACISoundstage.
Are you interested in
PROMOTIONS or MARKETING?
The Michigan Ensian Yearbook is looking for an energetic and
creative person to head a new promotional campaign. This po-
sition offers the opportunity to organize and implement your
own ideas. Great Experience if you want to enter the field. Paid
Position. For more information and to pick up an application
stop by The Michigan Ensian: 420 Maynard Street. All applica-
tions must be in by February 24,1989.
3 t -
Disc jockey Tom Simonian is now known locally for DJing at dance
clubs, but here he relaxes where it all started for him - at WCBN,
where he still works.
Pistols, The Clash, or whatever else to over and over again. But it is not
I was really into would get played; progressing. It developed some with
there was also hip-hop and other rock-and-roll in the '60s but hasn't
early rap like old Africa Bambatta much since. A music type doesn't
and Planet Rock. However, the necessarily have to change but I
whole punk scene has now lost think it is important. The world
much of its appeal for me. I feel like moves and continues to go on
moving on. Some people might say around us. Music should reflect that.
that I've sold out but that's not re- D: Has reggae music continued to
ally it. I still love the music, but the
focus is gone. There isn't really
much happening with "punk" these
days. It's just more of the same.
D: What constitutes "musical de-
velopment" as you see it?
S: I think music has to change in
order to progress. For example, the
blues is a fantastic music, I think, it
is a great formula that you can listen
S: I think reggae is keeping up
pretty well. There are goof-ups, as
there will be, with some artists try-
ing to get too commercial, but over
all it's doing well. Some of the
roots music, for example, like
Burning Spear and Marley, which
See DJ, Page 8
ED U CATION
(an interdenominational campus fellowship)
Students Dedicated to
Knowing and Communicating
Weekly Meetings: Thursdays : 7:00 pm
439 Mason Hall
John Neff - 747-8831
Conference Resume Book (February 13 - March 6)
Mock interview opportunities
Resume & interview workshops
For information: Career Planning & Placement (764-7460)
APRIL 14, 1989
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