The Michigan Daily - Friday, February 18, 1994 - 9
Lost in Vapour Space
Escape into Mark Gage's electronic music outfit
By ANDY DOLAN
Vapour Space may not yet be a
familiar name to all fans of ambient
dance music, but anyone that has had
the privilege of experiencing this one-
man techno outfit's first single,
"Gravitational Arch of 10," can attest
to the fact that it is one of the most
thrilling combinations of atmospheric
soundscapes and dance rhythms
around. In fact, all of Vapour Space's
debut album, "Themes From Vapour
Space," is full of the sorts of sounds
and ideas that represent the most in-
triguing and compelling elements of
this genre of music.
While the first single is less than a
year old, Vapour Space's Mark Gage
is certainly not a newcomer to elec-
tronic music. "I've been recording for
about 11 years now," Gage said. "I've
got about 70 hours of material re-
corded since then; some of it's good,
some of it's crappy, but out of every
40 minutes of tape, there's usually
these gems that crop up. For example,
on 'Themes,' the opening and closing
tracks, as well as 'Paradox of Time
Dilation' were recorded in 1983, and
I just transferred them from tape to
On "Gravitational Arch of 10,"
one of the most notable and exciting
elements is the juxtaposition of harsh,
acidic electronic screams with softer,
more timid synthesizer textures, which
comes together under one powerful
techno-dance groove. .
Gage explained that he's able to
come up with tracks like this by em-
ploying many different styles of
songwriting. "There's no one way to
go about it," he explained. "Some
things will start based on a short
sample that I think sounds cool, some
will start based on a five-minute
sample from a movie, and others might
start based on a little synthesizer riff.
I take real good notes when I'm think-
ing about things, so a lot of times
before I've even started to actually
work I have a series of notes and
parameters that I want to stay within
for a particular piece ... and then
'I've been recording for
about i years now ...
I've got about 70 hours
of material recorded
since then; some of it's
good, some of it's
crappy, but out of every
40 minutes of tape,
there's usually these
gems that crop up.'
- Mark Gage of
some songs are just inspired by set-
ting up the (equipment) differently!"
Vapour Space's live show was the
mood-setter for the highly successful
"See The Light" tour, which also fea-
tured Aphex Twin, Orbital and Moby.
Gage prefers Orbital's method of uti-
lizing MIDI-driven drum machines,
synthesizers, and samplers on stage
rather than pre-recording the set on
Digital Audio Tape, as artists such as
Moby have done in the past.
"It's pretty volatile live electron-
ics, and it's pretty easy for things to
screw up!" Gage explained. "To me,
though, its more powerful if I can
stand behind a synth and with a tweak
of a knob, I can make the whole room
shake. It's a neat feeling!"
"I do all of the mixing right from
the stage," he continued. "I can get in
and tweak gain in on the board or send
things off into delays. Sometimes I'm
loading new note information and
turning the sequences on when I want
them to start. It's pretty busy for me
... I can't do any drugs or drinking
until after I'm done!"
Above all, Vapour Space's music
allows listeners to escape from the
pressures of the real world for a while.
As Gage noted, "With any art form,
you're always trying to get people to
think of different things. In that way,
it's definitely a form of escapism."
Vapour Space's music, however, is
the kind of escape you never want to
have to return from.
VAPOURSPACE prfrms tonight
at Industry in Pontiac. Doors open
at 10 p.m., and Vapour Space will
perform at around midnight. Call
(810) 334-1999 for more informa-
QUALITY DRY CLEANING
AND SHIRT SERVICE
332 Maynard St.
across from Nickels Arcade
Even if you aren't familiar with Vapour Space, you should check out this new brand of electronic dance music.
..You can count on a powerfully good show with Counting Crows
By KRISTEN KNUDSEN
Rolling Stone has called their al-
bum "August and Everything After"
one of the best rock releases of the
year. MTV has honored the "Mr.
Jones" video with heavy rotation buzz
clip distinction. Their album has sold
350,000 copies to date and is cur-
rently number lOon thecharts. Sounds
'like good news, right?
Not for Counting Crows, whose
very name, taken from an old English
divination rhyme, refers to the flimsi-
ness of life and the general feeling of
disconnection from it.
"A lot of the record is about failed
relationships or feeling strangely un-
able to feel," said pianist Charlie
Gillingham. "We're disconnected
from the music scene; we don't have
a lot to do with what's going on right
now. We're trying to do something
different. I think that grunge and the
different music that are happening
right now are going to run their course.
We were trying to make a record that
essentially didn't belong in any par-
ticular year or time."
Still, thejangle of their guitars and
singer Adam Duritz's soulful deliv-
ery of his lyrics recalls such artists as
The Band, Van Morrison, REM and
the Cure. For this reason, some critics
have called Counting Crows (which
besides Gillingham and Duritz in-
cludes bassist Matt Malley, guitarist
David Bryson and drummer Steve
It's got a certain lyric and a certain
melody; we try to keep everything
else out of the way and just let the
song play itself.
"Our music is simple, personal,
uncalculated, off-hand and real sad,"
'We were trying to make a record that
essentially didn't belong in any particular year or
- Charlie Gillingham of Counting Crows
to their impending success. .
"I'd like us to be good enough that
the record company lets us do what
we want to do, but beyond that I hope
that we're not so successful that a lot
of critics and people are putting a lot
of expectations on us," Gillingham
Thanks to "Mr. Jones," success
for Counting Crows may come sooner
and bigger than they had hoped. Ac-
cording to Gillingham, their next,
video, for "Round Here," a slower
song that tells the story of lost souls,
will more accurately present the
band's message of depression.
He added that played live, these
emotions are a lot more powerful and
intense. But despite these somber
overtones, Gillingham promised an
enjoyable show. "I think they'll have
a good time," he said.
Count on it.
COUNTING CROWS will appear
with CRA CKER at 7p.m. tomorrow
at the State Theater in Detroit.
Doors open at 6p.m. Tickets were
$10; sorry, it's sold out.
Bowman) overly derivative, even re-
But such criticism may be inevi-
table, and Gillingham doesn't deny
his band's influences.
"Those are all great players," he
said. "We owe a lot to the '80s. When
we first started out we sounded a little
bit more like the Cure, and then my-
self and Adam come from a more late
'60s, early '70s sort of sound. Basi-
cally we just have the songs and we
try to play just what the song wants.
According to Gillingham, "Mr
Jones," about the rewards of stardom.
is the "friendliest" song on the album.
But in many ways it misrepresents the
band. For example, Duritz changed
the lyrics during a recent "Saturday
Night Live" performance from "I want
to be Bob Dylan and be a big, big star"
to "I want to be Alex Chilton and be in
Big Star." The change, like the band's
refusal to release "Mr. Jones" as a
single, reflects the band's resistance
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EACH FOR AMERICA
there are limits to what we can
do, that its out of our reach to
really change the way things are.
I feel there is no linut to what we
ca -oit only depends on .~
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