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February 11, 1992 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1992-02-11

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ARTS
'The Michigan Daily Tuesday, February 11,1992 Page 5

Bored Brit pop stars grow

up

by Nima Hodaei

For the past several years, the path
of aggression and anger in techno-
music has been led by Chelmsford,
England natives Nitzer Ebb. For-
ever dark, brooding and completely
intimidating, Nitzer Ebb was a per-

Nitzer Ebb, as McCarthy ex-
plains, started back in 1984 (a trio at
the time), to go against the wave of
commercial acts that had an all- too-
mainstream feel.
What resulted was an engaging
and revolting mix of songs, captur-
ing listeners with its repetitive

The duo's popularity around the
world has increased tremendously
with each subsequent album. A sup-
porting spot with British Mute
Records' labelmates, Depeche Mode,
garnered the band great reviews and
gave it a broader exposure base.
Oddly, however, the British
press continues to downplay Ebb's
importance in the dance-oriented
genre of industrial music. When the
British press is mentioned, Mc-
Carthy opens up: "There's a lack of
respect here (in Britain) for anyone
in journalism. If a guy who's been
learning to play the guitar since he
was twelve-years-old, didn't make
it, and so then went on to write as a
secondary thing, he has a bad atti-
tude (towards bands like us).
"They think, 'Well, he's no bet-
ter than me, and I was a really good
guitarist, and I should be where he
is.' I don't really give a shit about
what they think or what they do.
We'll carry on doing what we want
to do.
"The categorization of music in
America is so much less than it is in
England. Everything has to be cate-
gorized to make it easier for the
journalists to describe things in a
few words. And that's all it is - an
industry thing. It has nothing to do
with the fans and what they like or
dislike. It's a power trip really by
the press."
This anger toward the press has
not increased the "wall" Nitzer
Ebb had originally constructed be-
tween themselves and others for so
long. Ironically, that "wall" has in
fact begun to come down, as the
group tries to break the myth that it
is cold and distant.
McCarthy attributes the origi-
nal facade to their upbringings in
the violent and uninspiring town
right outside of London. A multi-
tude of experiences, however, have
changed his approach to fans and
media. "As we grew up and moved
away, we started to loosen up," he
says. "We left a bit of our attitude
behind us."
Nitzer Ebb has now embarked on
its first headlining tour of the U.S.
in several years. Terms such as
"ecstatic" and "energetic" hardly
seem to do the band justice on stage.
With a furious fusion of drums,

synths, and McCarthy's balance of
chant-like vocals and actual singing,
Nitzer Ebb places a lot of impor-
tance on its live show.
With a tour comes the excite-
ment of playing new material in
front of an audience. While the band
would be the first to admit that it
What resulted was an
engaging and
revolting mix of
songs, capturing
listeners and then
sending them away
once it beat them to a
bloody pulp.
has grown up during the past eight
years, McCarthy also makes it quite
clear that this new material is al-
most a culmination of this matura-
tion process.
"I'd say we've got a pretty good
base with Ebbhe ad," says Mc-
Carthy. "We're really happy with
the way the album sits and it's just a
progress of developing from the ba-
sis. It's not that we're disowning
the previous three albums, I just
think that this album is really start-
ing to (describe) what Nitzer Ebb is
really about."
NITZER EBB plays Saturday at the
State Theater in Detroit at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $15 at TicketMaster
(plus evil service charge).

I

Nitzer Ebb is a band Dickens could learn to love. Douglas McCarthy and
Bon Harris do the urchin thing in this photo which says a lot about urban
alienation, wouldn't you say?

fect portrayal of the hostility and
mystique that ran rampant in the in-
dustrial music business.
This image came to a grinding
halt in 1991, when the duo - com-
posed of vocalist Douglas Mc-
Carthy and percussionist Bon Har-
ris- released their fourth album,
Ebbhead. In place of the minimalist
lyrics, and the draining drumbeats,
stood an honest to goodness "pop"
album! The same electronic
elements, although present, were
shown in a new light.
"We were bored of what we
Were doing," says McCarthy.
"We've been around for a long time
and from the very beginning we
haven't really been bothered about
song structures and melodies and
keys and such. We wanted to exper-
iment with songs."
Daughters of the Dust
(1992)
dir. Julie Dash
African-American filmmaking
has gone through a renaissance of
sorts in recent years. The emergence
of Spike Lee, John Singleton, Mario
Van Peebles and others has paved
the way for aspiring African-Amer-
ican filmmakers to bring their
unique perspective to the screen.
Until now, their female coun-
terparts have lagged behind in terms
of commercial success and national
recognition. With Daughters of the
Dust, however, Julie Dash becomes
the first African-American woman
to make a nationally distributed
film.

sound, and then sending them away
for shelter once. it beat them to a
bloody pulp. McCarthy readily ad-
mits that this new out-look, at the
time, was actually two-sided.
"It was partly out of boredom
of listening to what was main-
stream, and the accepted music of
the time which was really overpro-
duced," he recalls. "We wanted to
offend as many people as possible,
really. It seems that you can offend
quite a lot of people easily - just
use one bass line or one synthesizer
with a heavy, disco-type drumbeat.
"But we couldn't be bothered to
waste time learning how to play
guitars. We really wanted to make
music as quickly as possible. Syn-
thesizers and sequencers were really
the quickest way to get a whole
sound."

An MIT professor engineers poetry
Who started the rumor that everyone at Massachusetts Institute
of Technology is a gearhead? Even MIT has a writing program, and
Robin Becker, an instructor there, will be reading her poems in the
Rackham Amphitheatre at 4 p.m. today. Becker also serves as the po-
etry editor of The Women's Review of Books, a job which seems to
balance out the technical atmosphere of MIT, keeping her poetry well
away from the influence of formulas and math.
Her latest work, Giacometti's Dog, contains an array of poems
about such diverse topics as her sister's suicide and the accidental
death of her dog: "The vet said it was quick, your unmarred body / dy-
ing on the inside, all the organs crying together. / Dog of the many
days, of the city, of the desert, / I hear the jangle of your collar in my
dreams."
Becker's poems take her readers on a tour around the world -
from a jazz festival in France to Agra and the Taj Mahal. She also
writes poems about works of art, producing a unique perspective on a
painting by Chagall or Matisse, or a sculpture, as in the title poem
"Giacometti's Dog."
"He moves so gracefully on his bronze legs / that they form the let-
ter M beneath him. / There is nothing more beautiful than the effort /
in his outstretched neck, the simplicity of the head; / but he will never
curl again in the comfortable basket,/ he will never be duped by the
fireplace and the fire."
Becker has won poetry fellowships from the National Endowment
for the Arts (guess she doesn't do anything too kinky with nuts and
bolts). You can find more of her poetry in her other collections, Back-
talk and Personal Effects.
Need CASH for COLLEGE?
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McCarthy

Dust tells the story of the
Paezan family, Sea Island Gullahs
who live off the coast of South Car-
olina. Set in 1902, the story takes
place the day before the family mi-
grates North. Dust centers around
the family's matriarch, the great
grandmother, and her decision not to
go North.
A voice-over narration reveals
the family's trepidations about
leaving their homeland, and a second
voice-over, by the unborn child of
one of the couples, is a retrospective
of what happens to the family years
later. Within these two narrations,
we are offered several reactions to
the grandmother's decision and the
family situation.
Dust breaks with Hollywood

cinematic traditions. The film cre-
ates its own time and space, and its
narrative is free-form and episodic.
The beautiful photography and un-
obtrusive camera work add to the
lyrical quality.
The female characters are no
longer mammy caricatures and
stereotypes; instead, they are real
women with real concerns about the
future of their people. The film does
not resort to cliches and offers a re-
freshing look at the African-Ameri-
can female experience.
At times, however, the narrative
is difficult to discern. The multiple
voice-overs are confusing, and the

characters (with the exception of
the great-grandmother) are not
clearly delineated. Too much time is
spent just trying to figure out what
is going on, making the film tedious
at times.
But Dash is not new to filmmak-
ing. She began studying film in 1969
and spent 15 years researching and
studying the Gullahs. Hopefully,
American audiences will not have to
wait this long again for films by
Dash and other African-American
women.
Daughters of the Dust plays
tonight at 6 p.m. in MLB 4. Admis-
sion is free.- -Michelle Phillip

* M J-

I I ty"

-'Eu-uM s w . m r r w vi v r.a .v . v w w " W W aU U " - *W ..I -- -."-I - . --.

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