Page 8 -The Michigan Daily -Tuesday, March 20, 1990
by Annette Petrusso
THE Jesus and Mary Chain know
nothing about distortion. Their deli-
cate arty riffs don't have the gritty
edge that adds the extra character
needed to make lots of feedback in-
teresting for more than a half an al-
bum. Helios Creed does. The wah-
wah feedback virtuoso who led the
Bay area-based late '70s/ early '80s
punk/ experimental/ heavy psycho-
metal outfit Chrome twists his vo-
cals by technical means on his latest
(1989) album The Last Laugh, often
sounding like a drowning storm-
trooper would if it could "sing."
Creed skillfully manipulates his
noise into a reflection of the cold
angst of people replaced by ma-
chines. He forces his musical tools
to shriek harshly in the face of this
HC's distortions are made coher-
ent by the steady thumping bass of
Daniel House and supportive drum-
ming of Jason Finn. As his band,
they are a slightly more accessible
texturized version in the same genre
as Chrome with a less acid-based
quality. Creed enhances the rough
gothic/urban anxiety attitude that
prevails on Laugh, his fourth start-
ling solo release.
The vocals on Laugh are auto-
mated, affected or rippled-sounding
as if they were sung through a mi-
crophone of water. Live, they must
be interesting in their recreation of
in the Michigan Daily
Madame F plays sad song
by Kim Yaged
As part of the week-long 11th
Annual Conference on the Holo-
caust, Claudia Stevens performed An
Evening with Madame F in the Ir-
win Green Auditorium at Hillel on
Sunday. In this theatrical rendition
of Playing for Time, with musical
composition by Fred Cohen,
Auschwitz survivor Fania Fenelon's
unnerving account of life as a mem-
ber of this death camp's 47-person
orchestra is told. Stevens becomes
Fenelon as she, through singing and
piano playing, relives the sadistic
world that she once confronted daily.
As Fenelon, Stevens emerges
from the audience to set the stage: it
is after her liberation from
Auschwitz, and Fenelon is touring
to publicize her book. The sole
props on stage are a podium, snare
drum and black baby grand piano
with which she will work her magic.
Referring to herself as number
74862, she immediately harnesses
us, sending us unwittingly, like the
Jews and other victims of the Nazis,
to Auschwitz, where we will writhe
in torture for the next hour.
Stevens' performance is stun-
ning. Each movement, or lack
thereof, is deliberate and poignant
down to the most subtle twitch.
Pausing momentously the first time
she sits down to play the piano, she
is a statue of quandary lost in space.
Similar uses of timely hesitations,
redundancies and poses indicate how
attuned Stevens is to her character.
Her impeccable French accent and
her intermittent interjection of Ger-
man words enhance the piece even
Stevens makes the piano invisi-
ble or prominent at different points
in the performance to suit her intent.
It dissolves into her soul as she de-
picts Fenelon using the music as
escape but evolves into a hideous
appendage as the realization that she
is playing for the Nazis, who may
murder her and the other prisoners at
any time, comes back into focus.
Stevens plays pieces by Lehar, Puc-
cini and Schumann, but each selec-
tion is played just to the point where
the audience begins to enjoy it and is
then cut off, mirroring the reality of
the taunting nature of the concentra-
tion camp. The piano and its silence
are the scenery.
There is great irony throughout
the performance. Stevens plays a
frolicking tune as she speaks an-
grily, gritting her teeth. Or she
speaks gaily with a glint of laughter
in her voice as she performs a dirge-
like melody. Her sarcastic tone is
There is great irony
plays a frolicking tune
as she speaks angrily,
gritting her teeth. Or
she speaks gaily with
a glint of laughter in
her voice as she
performs a dirge-like
melody. Her sarcastic
tone is often
laughable, but one
often laughable, but one cannot
laugh. The thought of it makes one
cringe that much more.
Either singing subtly or bursting
into a painful clamor, Stevens' voice
accompanies her playing magnifF-
cently. In the closing of the perfor-
mance, amid death, suffering and the
uncertainty of her own fate, Fenelon
stands boldly, patriotically as she
emotionally delivers "La Marseil-
laise," the French national anthem.
The lights go down and the audience
is left in the silence of darkness,
forced like Fenelon to ponder thi
meaning of their existence.
In the question-and-answer ses,
sion that followed the performances
Stevens explained that she, as a per*.
former, could understand Fenelon's
experience; one is always compros
mising and never allowed to say
"no." She can relate to this piece be-
cause she knows survivors of the
Holocaust, and it is pertinent to he
family history. She uses An Evening
with Madame F to work out a lot of
her own personal problems. The au-
dience is rewarded tremendously for
it; An Evening with Madame F i
Helios Creed may be a little less polished nowadays, but at least he
knows his music history. Saint Jimi feeds back some inspiration.
these kind of vocals and riffs. The
first song, "Some Way Out," has no
real lyrics but a mechanized voice
muttering incomprehensible words
to the din of guitar. "Late Bloomer"
uses the timing and pace of punk
plus sometimes drowning and some-
times cottonmouth singing over cut-
ting guitar work. Creed does not
limit himself to hard arty fucks -
"Where the Children" comes close to
standard rock, relatively speaking.
The vocals sound only like the dis-
tant voice of a god over a P.A. sys-
Creed's rough intensity comple-
ments the creativity of his sound. He
distorts into images that are more
real-life and exciting than those '80s
versions of Jimi Hendrix. While a
cousin to bands like Dinosaur jr., he
doesn't compromise like some col-
lege bands (firehose or Soul Asy-
lum) that have to exist in a pseudo-
commercial state to remain popular
among a demanding audience. With
effective, simplistic support from
his band, Creed carves his own gui-
HELIOS CREED performs with
WIG tonight at the Heidelberg.
Doors open at 9:15 and cover is $5.
Continued from page 7
ture and the present, as (although
sometimes dirty and sometimes
painted shut) it allows everyone to
see and hear things that might not be
otherwise expressed. When, in 1968,
Czechoslovakia slightly loosened the
political ropes that bound its people,
the result was movies that expressed
what the people could not say; like-
wise, the films that play the Festival
are a loosening of the social, cultural
and political ropes that bind us all
and therefore cannot be ignored.
THE 28TH ANN ARBOR FILM
FESTIVAL runs tonight through
Sunday at the Michigan Theater.
The schedule of screenings is:
Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.; Wednesday
through Friday, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Sat-
urday, 1, 7 and 9 p.m. Sunday
(Winners Night), 5, 7 and 9 p.m. All
shows are different, except for
those repeated on Winners Night.
Admission is $4 for 1 show, $7 an
evening, $25 a series pass. The
judges will have free showings of
their works at 3 p.m. on Wednes-
day, Thursday and Friday.
Continued from page 7
be a pre-concert workshop featuring*
James "Blood" Ulmer, in the Union.
Ulmer's gutbucket style of playing
has garnered him much praise in the
niche of jazz guitar and even in tfid
label of funk. Given his history,
which includes playing with the
enigmatic Ornette Coleman, Ulmer's
focus on the Harmolodic-Diatonic
theory of jazz improvisation (which
has driven some jazz purists quite
mad) should be a welcome twist on *
some old standards. And after all,
given the spirit of jazz, we should be.
so free in our thoughts.
JUDY ADAMS will speak at 7 p.m.
at the Trotter House, 1443 Washtq-
naw. JAMES "BLOOD" ULMEk
will speak at 3 p.m. in the Pond
Room, in the Michigan Union. Both
lectures are free.
UM News in
For Co-ed non-dance
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But he'll be
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