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March 10, 1992 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1992-03-10

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ARTS
The Michigan Daily Tuesday, March 10, 1992 Page 5
Bulgarian women who
croon like Dead angels K t

by Michelle L. Weger

i ou've probably heard their
praises sung by the likes of George
Harrison, Linda Rondstadt, Paul
Simon, Graham Nash and Sinead
O'Connor. But don't let that dis-
courage you from hearing the
Bulgarian State Radio and Tele-
vision Female Vocal Choir live, for
yourself.
The 24-member group with the
ponderous name and voices like
fire is bringing its startling sounds

land to the group.
With the release of Le Mystere
des Voix Bulgares on Elektral
Nonesuch in 1988, a compilation of
recordings made by Marcel Cellier
during the '70s and '80s which
wound up on Billboard's Top 200,
the group gained widespread ac-
claim, as well as throngs of new
fans in the musical markets of We-
stern Europe and North America.
International tours followed and
so did a second album, Le Mystere
volume two. With the recognition,

who sounds like she stepped off of
a Broadway stage. Still other songs
sound like gospel chorales written
by Stravinsky or Bartbk.
Although lristova's singers be-
come "professional" by working for
the State, they aren't trained to sing
in the Western sense that, for exa-
mple, Jessye Norman was taught.
What blows away most Western lis-
teners are the harmonies and rhyth-
mic patterns that sound complex,
but which come naturally to these
women. It's these natural abilities
which make "classically trained"
musicians seethe with envy and
gape in awe.
Their musicianship is also first
rate; the pieces they sing are actu-
ally sophisticated compositions and
arrangements based on folk melody
and style. In a 1990 interview with
the Boston Globe, Hristova said,
"The important thing is that every-
one sings in Bulgaria. Until 35
years ago, however, there was no
tradition of singing in choirs." She
also said that her goal was to de-
velop the folk tradition as well as
preserve it.
Jerry Garcia has said that the
choristers "sing like angels," but I
would definitely put them in the
Furies and Sirens category. Their
music is about life - work, loss,
nature, love, dance, war, and strife
- rather than eternal bliss, filling
their singing with passion, soul and
humanity.
THE BULGARIAN STATE RADIO
AND TELEVISION FEMALE VO-
CAL CHOIR appears tonight at 8
p.m. in the Power Center. Tickets
are $18.50, call 763-TKTS for more
information.

I he Bulgarian state 1-emale vocal U
order to pose for a photo. Just say,
to Power Center. Tonight's concert
marks the choir's second appea-
rance in Ann Arbor, and is just one
stop on their current 26-city tour of
North America.
Founded in 1952 by composer
Phillip Koutev to provide singers
for State broadcasts, the choir is led
by one of Koutev's students, Dora
Hristova. Also, the group formed as
a means of keeping alive the disap-
pearing traditional folk music of
Bulgaria's seven regions. The wo-
men who make up the group are
found at local competitions and se-
lected for the natural purity and in-
tensity of their tone. In turn, they
each bring the style of their home-

noir stops singing for just a moment in
"Fromage!"
their audiences widened further to
include everyone from ethno-musi-
cologists to the Hipper-than-Thou,
who could catch them in concert at
the Kennedy Center and Ambas-
sador Auditorium as well as on
VH-1, MTV News and The Tonight
Show.
Theirs is an extremely intense
sound; it's quite full and even harsh
at times. Some songs cxploit that
quality more than others, especially
those about dances and play. Rich
harmonies are also sometimes sur-
prising and beautifully balanced.
Sweet, lyrical pieces appear in
the choir's repertoire, as does a
number featuring an alto soloist

Mom and the kiddies (I to r, Gaby Hoffman, Julie Kavner, Samantha Mathis) schmooze happily prior to Mom's big
break, at which point she cruelly abandons her feminine duty as nurturer and begins a life of her own.
Wouldn't you like to have a Life?
Julie Kavner hams it up in angst-ridden Nora
Ephron's tale of building a life beyond motherhood

This Is My Life
dir. Nora Ephron
by Jen Bilik
This Is My Life follows a family
that is unconventional only by media
standards - one mother and two
daughters, minus the father - in a
rewardingly realistic comedy about
funny people coping with change,
relationships and self-exploration.
Bucking the trend, I grew up with
parents who were married to each
other. I was a minority.
Especially among all-female,
single-parent households, I noticed
that these smaller families had a
special closeness because they were
in it together. Without a partner, my
friends' single mothers confided in
them and they snuggled on Saturday
nights with popcorn, despite the
significant paternal absence. I came
away from This Is My Life with the
same sense of warmth I got from my
friends' homes, the deep fuzzy feel-
ing that people really matter to each
other.
The film works on many differ-
ent levels: as a comedy, as a study of
relationships, as a drama of self-ex-
ploration. Julie Kavner plays Dottie

Ingels, the mother of Erica
(Samantha Mathis) and Opal (Gaby
Hoffman), who takes her one chance
at being a stand-up comic.
The family is tightly-knit enough
to bicker, tease and play-act, but as
Dottie makes a success of herself,
the girls contend with the intrusion
that comes when Dottie stops iden-
tifying herself primarily as a mother.
The story is narrated as a voice-
over address to the audience in the
first person by Dottie and Erica, al-
most as if they're arguing for the
right to explain situations from their
own perspectives. Dottie introduces
the movie, ending her introduction
by saying, "This is my life." Then
Erica steps in, concluding, "This is
my life."
When Dottie's prolonged profes-
sional absences create problems and
she begins to use embarrassing ma-
terial from Erica's life in her com-
edy routines, Erica screams, "Use
your life, not mine!" "I'm sorry,"
replies Dottie. "It's just that our
lives are all tangled up together."
This is Nora Ephron's directing
debut, though she's written many
screenplays, a novel and collections
of humorous essays. Best known for
Silkwood and When Harry Met
Sally, Ephron and her sister Delia,

also a writer, wrote the screenplay
for This Is My Life. The two betray a
sensitive understanding of relation-
ships between sisters and women.
Ephron solicits superb perfor-
mances from her actors and has a
fine touch for comic timing. The
film moves forward between signifi-
cant scenes that are punctuated by
montage sequences narrated by
Erica and Dottie. The pacing works
to underscore the comic rhythm,
creating a tight movie that carries its
emotional weight well.
The movie communicates the
uniting (and exclusionary) power of
humor and performance - the fam-
ily that laughs together stays to-
gether. This might be one of Dottie's
"life lessons" (the verbal equivalent
of bumper stickers) were it not for
her inability to confront serious
issues.
Dottie addresses her daughters'
disappointment with.-humor at times
when they need serious attention,
always remaining realistically my-
opic. "Kids are happy if their moth-
er's happy," says Dottie in a life les-
son. But later, toward the end of the
movie, she decides, "No. Kids are
happy if their mother's there."
When Dottie makes her way into
See LIFE. Page 8

t
a

Boogie Down
Productions
Sex and Violence
Jive
Chalk up a victory of classic pro-
portions for Blastmaster KRS-One
with the newest advancement of his
humanistic revolution, Sex and
Violence. On track again after the
mediocre Live Hardcore Worldwide,
BDP has returned with an album that
is as lyrically formidable as the de-

Jobe confronts Dr. Angelo (Pierce Brosnan) in cyber form as he proceeds to merge with a computer system and
take over the world.
Cyborgs have feelings (and sex) too

but Criminal Minded, and musically
their best effort yet.
The sardonically titled Sex and
Violence foregoes these two con-
temporary functions of entertain-
ment to expose both the frauds of
knowledge-dropping rap and the so-
cial sicknesses dividing humanity
against itself.
On the rap level, KRS takes shots
at Five Percenters Brand Nubian in
"Like a Throttle" and crushes the
nihilistic purveyors of revolution X-
Clan in the overwhelming "Build
and Destroy." The venomous "We
In There" finds him chastising
gangster rappers in the spirit of
Criminal Minded, "You're psycho-

logically, historically and spiritually
sick / Plus you're on my dick!"
"Poisonous Products" exposes
the diseases of imperialism and
Christianity over a soulful rhythm
that breaks and resolves itself in an
unpredictable manner. He speaks
out, "This is KRS. and I'm Black /
The same color as the brothers in
Iraq / War is wack, especially when
you die in vain / Bush invaded
Panama, how can he really place
blame on Hussein?"
"Who Are the Pimps?" finds
KRS expanding on a theme from
Edutainment, "Capitalism says
we're all in slavery." He expounds,
See RECORDS, Page 8

The Lawnmower
Man
dir. Brett Leonard
by Austin Ratner
T he 1975 short story The
Lawnmower Man by Stephen King
had nothing to do with "virtual real-
ity" or computers or intelligence en-
hancement or any of the gimmicky,
bogus science fiction crap which
makes up the film version. And it
was a dumb short story to begin
with.
Producer Gimel Everett has taken
a skimpy plot about dangerous tech-
nology (loosely based on virtual re-
ality, a new 3-D video game), the
lucrative Stephen King label and
some computer animation, patched
them all together and planned to sell
The Lawnmower Man on neat-look-

ing commercials. So Gimel Everett
can go hug a tree as far as I'm con-
cerned.
The story begins with Dr.
Lawrence Angelo's (Pierce Bros-
nan) research on a chimp's response
to virtual reality, which somehow
makes the chimp smarter. The chimp
dies and Angelo is forced to use
Jobe (Jeff Fahey), a mentally retar-
ded lawnmower man whom ev-
eryone kicks around.
The experiment goes wrong and
Jobe becomes a monster and plans to
take over the world, as well as get
back at everyone who was mean to
him. Fahey has a tough job, as do all
the actors, because screenwriter
Brett Leonard's and Gimel Everett's
dialogue is somewhere near porno-
level.
"It's so HUGE in here," simpers
Marnie Burke (Jenny Wright), the
horny widow who teaches Jobe

about breasts, sex, and whatnot. La-
ter, Jobe takes her into virtual reality
for cyber-sex, after which she gets
stuck in cyber-goo and shrieks,
"Help!" But Jobe, who is turning
evil, just says in a weird cyber-
voice, "It's from our primal mind,"
turns into a large insect, and barfs on
her, causing Marnie to have a psy-
chotic break.
Brosnan spends most of the film
in a kind of pathetic frenzy, hurrying
from one irrational plot sequence to
the next and wearing a beleaguered
look which seems to say, "Man, fuck
Timothy Dalton."
See CYBER, Page 8

MICHIGAN MADNESS
3 on 3 Basketball
presented by
The Division of Kinesiology
Student Government

KRS-One

_ _ _ _ A .

r

to0

215 S. State St.
Ann Arbor
oomn= An

March 14 and 15
The Coliseum-U of M

____ ___

-11

i

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