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Ultra Vivid Scene
Kurt Ralske is one of the pioneers of
a genre labeled everything from "bliss-
rock," to "mood music."He'skeptpretty
good company with the likes of My
Bloody Valentine, Loop and Spacemen
3Yet the irony is, you've probably
never heard his name.
Ralske, for the uninformed, is the
mastermind behind Ultra Vivid Scene.
Hell ... he is UVS. Warped lyrics and
often bizarre delvings into subjects like
religion, and sado-masochism, have
made him an often misunderstood and
alienated figure in music. "Rev," his
third full-length release should come as
no surprise to the handful of fans who
are familiar with his earlier work.
"Rev" gushes forth with the same
lyrical imagery that we've come to ex-
pect, instead this time, a definite pop
sound works its way into the equation.
"Candida," the opening cut, pulls the
listener into its catchy hook, as does the
first single off the record, "Blood and
Thunder," which effortlessly rolls on
for over 10 minutes, never boring the
listener. Don't be lead astray by the
soothing guitars and the whispered vo-
cals. One glance at the lyrics sheet dis-
plays a young man who obviously
spends a great deal of time pondering
over some rather heavy issues (some-
times with tongue firmly in cheek).
An entire army was brought in for a
supporting cast, including musicians
like Matthew Sweet, who plays the bass
on a couple of tracks. But the vibe and
feel is classic Ralske from start tofinish.
The extras help his sound but never
The "noise" and "bliss" compari-
sons should die down a bit after this
lbum, which isn't actually a bad thing.
Ralske deserves some credit on his own,
and "Rev" will go a long way toward
giving him that.
There's a good reason why this band
has a question mark at the end of their
name; their chameleon-like forays into
all kinds of trouble makeTherapy?hard
to pin down. They zip from dirty Brit
boy leadfoot crunch ("Disgracelandl")
reminiscent of Pop Will Eat Itself, to
decaffeinated Ministry torque ("Accel-
erator," "Neck Freak") at the drop of a
hat. This screaming tribe do the old
amalgamation of break-neck guitars and
hi-tech electronics, and yes, add some
twists of their own. But it's not enough
to call it soup. By the time you get to
"Zipless," it feels like you've been there
before (like earlier in the disc).
They do manage to pull out one
absolutely killer tune, the scratch acid
dub of "Deep Sleep." This one's all big
beats, chalkboard guitars and subsonic
bass rumbles. They do the dub thing so
well, itwouldbecool tohearsome more
stuff in that direction. Nurse has an
admirable premise (mix it all up and
come up with something new), but it
unfortunately ends up sounding some-
thing like a bunch of stuff mashed to-
gether instead of anything cohesive.
Therapy? Potential? Maybe?
Comic classical composer
by Keren Schweitzer
A concert hall is not the usual setting for Superman, Lex Luthor or Lois Lane.
Composer and University professor Michael Daugherty would emphatically
disagree. When Daugherty's music is on the program, the audience is in for an
energetic, virtuoso performance, as well as a dose of their favorite comic strip
Daugherty has successfully incorporated these and other popular culture
themes into his works, and has created a sophisticated and truly contemporary
style of concert music. This month, several School of Music ensembles will
perform his works.
Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Daugherty began his musical training as a jazz
pianist, and played in several funk bands. This was not the traditional start for a
classical composer of an earlier generation, but more typical of the younger
generation of composers. "I am the younger generation, and it has become mote
typical for my time," Daugherty said.
Daugherty was aFulbrightscholar and wrote computermusicin Paris. He later
received his PhD from Yale University and studied composition with the com-
poser Gyorgy Ligeti (who will be in Ann Arbor this weekend) in Paris. He has
received several awards from the American Academy Institute of Arts and is
currently an Associate Professor of Composition at the University.
Asked about his fascination with pop culture, Daugherty said, "A composer
must tap from his or her own environment. He or she must draw from his own
culture and then give itsoul."Daugherty was influencedby awiderange of music,
including rock, soul, gospel, funk and the classical composer Charles Ives.
"I also love great jazz compositions like 'Kind of Blue' by Miles Davis, and
'Straight No Chaser' by Thelonious Monk," he said. "I like music that has a lot
of humor and wit with highly structured energy."
On Tuesday, the University Philharmonia will perform Daugherty's "Kryp-
ton," a piece about the destruction of Krypton in the world of Superman. "The
story of Krypton is a timeless myth," he said. "The citizens are destroying their
own earth, similar to how we are destroying our own earth." Some of his other
compositions include, "Sing Sing J. Edgar Hoover," which was premiered in
December by the Kronos Quartet at Lincoln Center, and "Lex," recently per-
formed by the Michigan Chamber Players at the School of Music.
Daugherty believes that music is a social art based on interaction not only with
the audience but between the players as well. Many of his compositions, such as
"Lex," reflect this philosophy. "I like music in which the musicians bounce off
each other," he said.
When asked what it takes to become a successful composer, other than talent
and hard work, he said that "acomposer must have vision, imagination, andaway
to fit into the already existing musical world. A composer must deal with society,
and most importantly, he or she must be enthusiastic about his or her work."
Daugherty sees ahopeful future forconcert hall music. "It will never be amass
market, but the symphony orchestras are doing well," he said. To him, the
possibilities for music written in the 21st century areinfinite. "Some people think
too much freedom is a dangerous thing," he said. "I disagree."
MICHAEL DAUGHERTY's "Lex" will be performed by the U-M Percussion
Ensemble Sunday at 4 p.m. in the School of Music McIntosh Theatre. The
University Philharmonia will perform his "Krypton" and "Silent Night"
Tuesday at 8p.m. at Hill Auditorium. Both events are free.
-Nima Hodaei Maybe this group should seek some extra "Therapy" before they cut their next album.
No one's answering on this 'CB'
by John R. Rybock
Chris Rock, best known currently for his "Saturday Night
Live" roles, as well as supporting roles in "New Jack City"
and"Boomerang," tries to breakinto the worldof the leading
.man with "CB4," and stumbles.
Directed by Tamra Davis; written by Chris Rock, Nelson
George and Robert LoCash; with Chris Rock, Allen Payne
and Deezer D.
RockplaysAlbert, alower-middle classkidfromLocash,
California who wants to be a rapper. Looking for a market-
able image, he assumes the identity ofGusto (Charlie Murphy),
a gangster who is arrested and sent to the infamous Cell
Block 4. Albert and his friends Euripides (Allen Payne) and
Otis (Deezer D) become ganster rappers: MC Gusto, Dead
Mike, and Stab Master Arson. And, of course, the real Gusto
escapes and seeks revenge for the theft of his name.
That's the premise. And while it has promise, that prom-
ise is not really exploited. In comparison with other films by
"SNL" stars, it is smack in the middle between "Opportunity
Knocks" and "Wayne's World." It has many more hilarious
moments than the Dana Carvey vehicle, but there is no flow
orrhythm to the story, which was nota problem with the more
consistent "Wayne's World." This is probably a result of
Rock's work as a stand-up comedian and on "SNL" - bits
and sketches are only a few minutes long, and can often be
connected by a simply "so anyway ... "
There isenough hereto show thatChris Rock will be large
someday. There may be a few jokes which fly over the head
of non-rap fans, but most of the humor is geared toward
everyone, and usually centers around sex (the funniest mo-
ment may be a sex scene comparing two couples).
And there is a message to the film. Unfortunately, the
story itself does not sustain the message from beginning to
end. Arthur Evans, as Albert's hard-working father, com-
ments to his now famous ganster-rapper son "You ain't from
the street. I'm from the street. Only someone not from the
street would think it's something to glorify." That's it, the
Message. And it sticks out for its five seconds and disappears,
never to be seen from again.
Chris Elliot appears as A. White, a director making a
documentary on CB4. The name is intentional, because he is
REALLY white, seeing MC Gusto through the same eyes as
an over-eager anthropologist. "It's my first drive-by," he tell
his camera in a highly giddy manner.
What Phil Hartman is doing here is.one for "Unsolved
Mysteries." He is in three scenes as a one-dimensional
politician (the portrayal, not just the character), who goes
after CB4 for political gain. As quickly as he appears, he
vanishes with his character having no impact on the story.
Allen Payne ("New Jack City") and Deezer D work well
with what they have as Chris Rock's sidekicks - one who
finds Black spirituality, a la Malcolm X, and the other just
looking to get with the girlies. Charlie Murphy, who writes
for baby brother Eddie, is funny as Gusto, but the character
is so basic and stereotypical that it is stale.
Butintheend, the audience has done some laughing. That
is, if they did not fall asleep in the time between jokes. One
should keep an eye on Chris Rock, because he will make it
someday. Just not here.
CB4 is playing at Showcase.
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From NBD's Cash
. Conveniently located on the northeast corner
of South University and East University.
" Get cash, check balances, obtain mini-statements,