Ultra Vivid Raiske, the
man behind the Scene
by Nima Hodaei
Kurt Ralske, the man behind Ultra Vivid Scene, has gone through three
distinct changes in his recording career. From the minimalistic beats of 1988's
"Ultra Vivid Scene," to the pop sensibility of 1990's "Joy 1967-1990," and now
to the guitar-based psychedelic rock of "Rev," Ralske has thrived on constantly
changing the boundaries in which he works.
This time aroundRalskehasalso changed thedimensions to include an actual
band (featuring Jack Daley and Julius Klepacz), which is new for him, consid-
ering he played almost all the instruments on the first two albums.
"I wrote the songs myself, but I got abass player and a drummer," said Ralske
"bout the album. "We spent like two months rehearsing the songs before we
recorded. We spent a lot of time jamming just getting musical communication
The communication of the band translated over into an intensely live feel on
the album, with the addition of guest musicians adding an intensity level not
found on previous UVS albums.
Theonestandardin Ralske'swork,though, whichmosttypifies whathedoes,
s the personal lyrics and subjectmatter. His focus on sex andreligion, along with
some of the most depressing lyrics this side of pre-1988 Robert Smith, have set
Ralske apart from the typical music babble. This is true again on "Rev," although
Ralske is good-humored about it.
"I'm notone of thosepeoplewho stays home on Saturday nights and turns out
all the lights and burns candles," Ralske explained in sarcasm. "I do try to write
about things that are important to me and are maybe hard to talk about. I have
better things to do than be serious all the time."
Although the lyrics may provoke images of the Ralske of old, the new album
has successfully moved him away from unfair comparisons that comprised his
earlier works. His days spent hanging out with the members of My Bloody
Valentine and other groups spawned from the same London "pop" culture,
resultedin the categoricallumping of his sound with theirs. "Rev" clears the path
for Ralske to stand on his own ground, with its Jimi Hendrix-esque guitars and
'70s classic rock sound-quite different from theworkofany ofhis other "bliss-
what goes on in terms of what people say and the way people try to hype it," said
Ralske. "I don't really like all that sort of shit either. I think the Valentines are a
great group, but I think we are trying to do something different. They're into
trying to reinvent the guitar ... I'm not. trying to do that."
Ralske and the rest of UVS are currently on their second headlining tour of
the United States. Therehearsing sessions have excited Ralske about striking out
on theroad, especially foraband who hasnothadmuch previous success playing
their songs live.
"I'm really looking forward to touring this time just because the group I used
on the record will be the same guys I'm touring with," said Ralske. "It's like a
really live record and it's going to transfer live a lot easier and a lot better."
Although UVS is far from achieving the same commercial success as bands
like U2 (who Ralske called the comparison point of everyone else today), the
band's first two albums garnered high spots on the college radio charts, and
Columbia Records has been pushing them as a "band to watch for." Does Ralske
care about the honors?
"I'm not in competition with anyone but myself," asserted Ralske. "And the
competition is the best, mostbeautifulcoolestmusic thatI can make. And tome,
whentherecord'sdone,that'sit.Thecompetitionisover.Ithink there are acertain
breed of clever people who are good at making music that is designed for easy
consumption, and they're very successful at it. If that's what they want to do, I
think that's great. But, I'm not one of those people."
Amen to that...
Mr. Lundie (James Cooper) describes the enchantment of Brigadoon, while Josh Rhodes, Jason Dilly and Susan Owen listen eagerly.
ULJTRAKVIVIDSCENE willperform this Friday, April23rd at St. Andrew's
Hall in Detroit. Call 961-MELTfor ticket information.
by Melissa Rose Bernardo
Every once in a while you see a
show that becomes a part of you. The
idea of the show may be totally unbe-
lievable, the dialogue cliche and the
score predictable. But it moves you
shows, and the Musical Theater pro-,
gram presented it with such unalloyed
April 15, 1993
grace and honesty that this magical
journey to the highlands of Scotland
will not soon be forgotten.
With the rise of the curtain, the Power
Center stage was immediately trans-
formed into a mysteriously dark forest
with mammoth trees, towering benevo-
lently over the village, covered in a
mist. Using rich purples and earthy
browns and greens, a painted screen
provided a lush background of plants
and rocks. Thescreenlifted torevealthe
town of Brigadoon.
The people of Brigadoon (the en-
semble) entreated us to enter, decked
out in bright plaids and smiles to match.
When their 30-some voices joined in
"Down on MacConnachy Square," they
sounded like 100 people. Each clearly
had his/her own character, yet fit into
the ensemble perfectly. They blended
flawlessly, and solos within the ensemble
were lively and clear. And they were so
darn happy! How could we refuse their
sincere invitation into their world?
The lead performances fortunately
matched the energy of the ensemble.
Susan Owen's Fiona was the epitome of
grace and youthful innocence. In
"Waitin' for My Dearie," in which she
tells the girls of her dreams, sunshine
beamed from her face and her mouth. it - esp
This song (and others) took Owen all those pla
over the scale, challenging her upper that Jeffl
and lower registers often within the It'sha
same line. Owen continually met that village a
challenge without any apparent strain. Itproved
She was completely natural, and there- Dance w
fore enormously endearing to the audi- Scottish
ence, and to Josh Rhodes' Tommy. over and
(along with his lack of plaid and his marriage
American accent) set him apart from Eddie Si
the villagers. Immediately there was Jeffrey S
chemistry between Rhodes'Tommy and crosses,
Owen's Fiona. In the lovely "Heather
on the Hill," Rhodes was casually flirta- The p
tious, with clear lyricism and nice dy- Briga
playful attitude. When they finally rec- to eni
grew more powerful and moving - in brigh
"Almost Like Being in Love," they to ma
literally infected the audience with their 30-So
happiness. in "D
Adding to the atmosphere of MacC
Brigadoon was Tracy Plester as Meg, they
the "hyper-thyroid." Plester was comi-
cally eager as she tried to seduce the eop
lackadaisical Jeff. Her "The Love of
My Life" was both comic and vocally building
well-done, allowing Plester to make use withoutl
of her ample chest register. Jason Dilly Whil
provided his own cynical form of comic was well
relief as the always-slightly-drunk Jeff. most im
Everyone in the village is so bright- Tamlyn
eyedandbushy-tailedandhecan'tstand dance. A
pecially when he has to wear
idpants. But Dilly also proved
ard to pin down whatmade this
nd its inhabitants so appealing.
asbreathtakingly intense. As is
wedding tradition, men dance
around the crossblades of two
if they touch the swords, the
will be plagued by bad luck.
ugarman, Danny Gurwin and
hubartagilely danced over three
beginning slowly and then
rble) entreated us
ter, decked out in
t plaids and smiles
itch. When their
me voices joined
sounded like 100
in speed and intensity - all
looking at their feet.
e the traditional classical ballet
l-done and lovely to watch, the
pressive dance sequence was
Shusterman's moving funeral
Accompanied by bagpipes and
drumbeats, Shusterman as Maggie paid
tribute to thedead Harry Beaton in an
interpretive dance. She bent down to
Harry, as if addressing him, and re-
moved his plaid cloak, which was pre
sumably covered in blood. She bran-
dished the cloak in the faces of onlook-
ers, as if to say "Look! You all killed
him!" As a statement, she wrapped the
cloak around herself, and solemnly
danced. Each drumbeat was like ablow
to Shusterman's Maggie, as she seemed
to reenact the chase which ended with
Harry's death. Eventually, her grief
drove her to the ground with an aching
Crowned with white hair and hold-
ing a staff, James Cooper played Mr.
Lundie, the resident wise man of
Brigadoon, who doles out tokens of
wisdomlike, "Ifye lovesomeone deeply,
anything is possible." Cooper infused
those lines with such feeling that Ifor-
got how often I had heard them.
Okay, I may be a sucker for senti-
ment. Butwhen the carefully measured
melodrama combined with incompa-
rable vocal talent, flawless dancing,
and consistent Scottish brogue, I fell in
love with the magic of "Brigadoon."
This production of "Brigadoon" gave
the audience a world of newly-born
hopes and acelebration of the renewing
power of love. I personally would like
to go along living in this world for as
long as I can.
Ultra Vivid Scene doesn't worry about competing with anyone.