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October 06, 1993 - Image 7

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-10-06

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ARTS

Doc Martens and
the liberated woman
By ERIC SONNENSCHEIN
Male chauvinists beware: three women described as "comedic feminist
terrorists" are coming to Ann Arbor, and they plan on walking over sexist
attitudes with their "Sensible Footwear." "Sensible Footwear," a set of
humorous, caustic, feminist sketches will be invading the Performance Net-
work Theater this Thursday through Sunday, and the three women behind this
cabaret plan on making their audiences think.
Alex Dallas, one of the members of the trio, discussed the reason for the
title of the work, which was birthed when the three came together about a
decade ago. "About three-quarters of women wear shoes that are too small for
them, purely for vanity ... we think, if you've got a liberated foot, you've got
a liberated mind. If you can wear comfortable shoes, wear your Doctor
Martens with pride. You can do anything."
What one sees in this attitude is an echo of feminists of the past, like
Virginia Woolf, who made the same mind-body connection years ago. Yet the
trio make the break from their predecessors in that instead of being angry or
serious in presenting their ideas, they are funny. Along with Dallas, Alison
Field and Wendy Vousden have put together a number of skits and songs that
touch on basic contemporary women's issues like child care and beauty. What
the trio tries to do differently is to look at these subjects in a new light, to attack
such issues in a fresh way, which is where their humor plays a big part. Dallas
warns, however, that their comedy might not be for the easily-offended.
"We'll talk about things like bodily functions, that perhaps nice girls
shouldn't talk about in public," she said.
"Sensible Footwear" comes to Ann Arbor after years of performing in
Britain and a recent extensive tour through Canada. Students are encouraged
to come support the play. Thursday night is "pay-what you-can". On the other
nights, the person sporting the funkiest footwear will win a fifty dollar gift
certificate.
SENSIBLE FOOTWEAR is showing at the Performance Network
Thursday-Sunday. Tickets are $10 general admission, $7 students/
seniors. Showtime is 7p.m. for all nights except for Sunday, which starts at
8 p.m. Call 663-0696.

Velocity Girl looks like a typical college-rock band and in many ways they are. They record for the seminal independent label Sub Pop and hail from
Washington DC, the home of hard-core punk, but with their jangling guitar hooks, sweet sing-along choruses and walls of guitar noise, they are far from
being either grunge or hard-core.
*While they have the elements of traditional college-rock, the group manages to fashion an irresistible, original pop style from familiar sounds. After a string
of successful singles highlighted by the superb "My Forgotten Favorite," Velocity Girl released their debut album, "Copacetic," this past spring. Although the
album is strong, the band shines in concert; opening for Belly this past March at St. Andrew's Hall, they blew the headliners off the stage with their
dynamic, energetic performance. Currently Velocity Girl is touring with the underground sensations Tsunami. Fresh from several successful appearances at
Lollapalooza's second stage and supporting their impressive debut album, "Deep End," Tsunami's brand of altemative guitar-pop is more original than
Velocity Girl's but no less accessible.
See both bands this Thursday at the Blind Pig. Doors open at 9:30 and tickets are only $5 in advance and get there early to catch Tsunami.

Que Sirhan Sirhan
Touch and Go
If you saw the Didjits perform at
the Blind Pig last summer, you al-
ready know what to expect of this
punk rock band from Champaign, Il-
linois. At the show, lead Didjit Rick
Sims paraded on stage in his three-
iece suit, scanned the audience with
disinterested eyes, andpromptly gave
the audience the middle finger. This
is how the Didjits deliver their music
- with a big Fuck You.
The band is loud, brash, and ex-
tremely obnoxious, and their new al-
bum "Que Sirhan Sirhan" is represen-
tative of this attitude.
A look at the lyrics sheet reveals
what's on the Didjits' mind. Lines
like "In your jungle you will feel my
motorrumble"("Que Sirhan Sirhan"),
"Drugged out/ had my last glass of
beer" ("Sick of My Fix"), and "Kids
are rockin'/ they gonna rumble late
tonight" ("Barely Legal") show that
the Didjits are following the sex, drugs
and rock & roll credo of performing.
This cliched, macho attitude would
lose its charm quickly if their music
*wasn't so damn good.
Sims is possibly the best guitarist
in punk rock today. Instead of the
simple three-chord progressions that
characterizes many punk guitarists,
Sims plays well crafted, physical gui-
tar thatweavesin andoutofthehyper-
fast rhythm section.
Of special note are the layered
guitar on "Agent 99," the power tool-
laden "Spicy Little Outfit" and the
driving "Fire in the Hole." The loud,
aggressive music of the Didjits can
only serve to reinforce their blatantly
obnoxious lyrics, and the combina-
tion of the two creates some very
enjoyable rock music.
As' the band tuned their guitars

between songs at the Blind Pig, they
were urged to hurry up from some
man in the audience. For the next five
minutes, Sims hurled insults about
the man, his mom, his grandma and
various anatomical organs of the man.
The now-highly embarrassed man
faded into the woodwork of the bar,
never to be heard from again. Now, if
that ain't rock & roll, what is?
- Matt Carlson
Anonymous 4
An English Ladymass
Harmonia Mundi
It isn't every day that a medieval
recording gains enough popularity to
chart on a major music index. So,
when "An English Ladymass" broke
into Billboard's Classical Top Ten, I
had to hear it for myself.
Aside from the CD's bigwig rat-
ing, the female perspective is the most
intriguing aspect of the music. Com-
posed of four adept female vocalists
(an unusual medieval arrangement in
itself) , the Anonymous 4 restore a
13th century Mass in honor of the
Virgin Mary.
Despite the religious affiliation,
you don't have to agree with the reli-
gious doctrine to appreciate the mu-
sic.
Assembled from tattered manu-
scripts of late middle ages
Ladymasses, the extracted liturgical
polyphony and English chant form a
choice repertoire of beautiful motets
and hymns.
The vocalists' clarity create a
placid resonance with the past. The
subtle complexity ofpolyphonic sing-
ing interweaves the four individual
voices, giving the composite mass
unity and continuity.
In the monophonic chants, the
fourvocalists' nerfectunitymeldthem

into a single voice. For listeners who
find monophony dull, the polyphonic
pieces show off the group's agility
and individual skills. In the "Introit,"
they braid complex rhythms and a
range of vocal pitches into an stun-
ningly intricate tune.
Although mundane instruments
were generally excluded from reli-
gious songs, Anonymous 4's profi-
ciency stems from their affinity with
classical string techniques. Through-
out the recording, their voicings reso-
nate like viola bowings given human
flexibility.
Of course, no one knows exactly
how medieval singing wasperformed,
or how it varied regionally; but, the
Anonymous 4's style seems as close
to divinity as medieval Christianity
ever got.
- Chris Wyrod
Orbital
Orbital 2
F. F. R.R.
While Orbital's aptly-titled sec-
ond album finds them still floating
through the realm of ambient techno,
more emphasis has been placed on
the hypnotic, emotional qualities of
their music rather than dancibility.
Orbital fill theircompositions with
gently phasing layers and loops of
sounds, voices and beats that some-
how manages to defy all the cliches of
techno music.
Orbital even redefines techno's
mandatory bass-heavy beats, reduc-
ing their role to just one of many
elements in the atmospheric miasma.
"Orbital 2" opens with a heatless
voice-loop experiment, "Time Be-
comes," which is followed by "Planet
of the Shapes," a track that opens the
more musical side of the record with

a shy-sounding fuzzy breakbeat, in-
terwoven with synthesizer and voice
loops before allowing thepuretechno-
beats and bass lines to emerge. But
this is only one of many techniques
that Orbital have at their
disposal.Didgits
"Lush 3-1," by contrast, begins
with a more accessible dance sound,
but melts into a sort of minimalist
beauty, highlighted by a simple but
breathtaking synth-flute motive.
Even stranger is the sixth track,
"Remind," in which several similar
bass andmelody sequencesconstantly
phase in and out, giving the impres-
sion of a song being continuously
remixed and reedited as it is being
played.
Not one track on "Orbital 2" is
satisfied with creating only one tex-
ture or feeling. Every track manages
to musically represent the subtle but
continuous shiftings that occur within
a state of mind.
On the whole, the album is a fasci-
nating sensory trip that brings a won-
derful emotional side to the often face-
less world of techno music.
-Andy Dolan

Et Tu, Babe? (1992)
My Cousin, My
Gastroenterologist
(1990)
Mark Leyner
Vintage Contemporaries
In these two books Mark Leyner
attempts to make himself the ultimate
fusion of your run of the mill cult
icons: David Lynch, Hunter S. Th-
ompson, Ian Shoales, Tom Robbins,
Jay McInerney and David Byrne. He
does this with an incredible degree of
success, and no doubt has garnered an
impressive following (his publication
by the exclusive Vintage Contempo-
raries is testament to this).
But to what end? Wherefore origi-
nality? Leyner commands an incred-
ible vocabulary and has nothing short
of a mastery of sentence structure -
he's fun to read. Every paragraph
tries to top the weirdness of the one
before it, making what is fresh and
delightful become tiresome and re-
dundant in its constant variety.
His wit, which produces a snort or
a grin for the first few chapters, pro-
vokes an annoyed frown as he unre-
lentingly beats you with it page after
page. He knows a lot about many
things, such as pharmaceuticals,

cyber-punk, politics, celebrity culture,
computers, and sports. But what does
he do with them all? What does he do
for those of us who are tired of
postmodern pop-cult invective, and
just want a good story? We are left
laughing between our teeth as we
look words up in the dictionary, while
from the pages he jeers and laughs at
us, squirting us in the eye with the
constant stream of his sour ego.
"I can live in both worlds," he
yells, with one foot in literate
academia, the other in fringe Ameri-
can counter-culture. He counts on the
reader's ignorance of the proper
course of action when a book offers
nothing but boredom -- closing it.
To give him some credit, at least
his books and chapters are short. If
you are a fan of any of the aforemen-
tioned icons and tired of watching
television, but too lazy to read a "real
book," then Mark Leyner may be for
you. You can get a good dose of weird
in the same time as the average com-
mercial break (unless you actually
get the gumption to look up the big
words)! The cool postmodern photo-
graphs on his book jackets are sure to
impress your friends who aren't im-
pressed enough that you're actually
reading a book that isn't homework.
--Andrew Schafer

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