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November 02, 1994 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-11-02

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RTS

Wedding Present gives gift of music
World's least complex pop band gain a sizable cult

By ANDY DOLAN
In the liner notes of the Wedding
Present's album, "Tommy," vocalist
David Gedge refers to his group as
"The world's leastcomplex pop band."
It seems strange, then, that neither crit-
ics nor fans seem to be able to get a
handle on just what it is that fuels their
unconventional and downright off-the-
wall approach to creating music.
In the past, the Wedding Present
have commited such blasphemies as
recording a frighteningly loud album
with Steve Albini - entitled
"Seamonsters"-- during the height of
the Manchesterdance craze, and, much
to the horror of theirrecord label, chose
to release a single in every month of
1992. This endeavor prompted the
Melody Maker headline, "Has David
Gedge gone mad?"
Bassist Darren Belk, however, ex-
plained that Gedge had not gone mad,
but that the band has just always liked
doing things their own way: "I've only
been in the group for a year, and al-
ready we've had ways of doing things
presented to us that we're just not inter-
ested in doing."
"We all have very definite opinions
on what we want to do and what the
group's about," he continued, "and the
great thing about the Wedding Present

is that if we don't want to do some-
thing, wedon'tdoit. We'venever been
fashionable!"
Which, of course, leads back to
"Seamonsters," certainly one of the
least trendy pop albums of 1991. "It's
not as if we all sit around the table and
say 'whatever's happening now, we'll
do the complete opposite,'" Belk ex-
plained. "It's more of a natural pro-
gression in the group that we do what
we do. Most of the time we're too busy
to take a great deal of interest in what's
popular at the time. You just sort of go
along with what you're doing."
On their latest LP, "Watusi," the
band found themselves not only ex-
perimenting with unusual sounds with
producer Steve Fisk, but also trying
some new twists on the methods that
they had mastered on their previous
efforts. Much of the fierceness present
in albums like "Seamonsters" and its
energetic predecessor, "Bizarro," has
been dropped in favor of more subtle
ideas.
"('Watusi') is generally more
melody-based," Belk described. "On
past records, to get the uplifting effect
for a chorus part, they'd put a pedal on,
whereas on this record, we tried to
achieve the same effect by changing
the arrangement or the melody, or per-

haps introducing a backing vocal, as
opposed to just getting louder. That's
very amucha'60's musical technique."
For Belk and many fans, however,
the clear winners on "Watusi" are the
tracks that took the most experimental
approaches, namely, the haunting
"Spangle," and the structurally twisted,
"So Long, Baby," instantly recogniz-
able by its confusing tempo change.
"('Spangle') started out as the usual
guitar-based song, perhaps a bit weird
in structure, but still guitar based ...
and Steve Fisk had the idea, he had this
weird keyboard thing at home that he
thought would sound interesting. I think
it's fantastic, it's got so much passion,
the melody works really well," Belk
described excitedly.
"'So Long Baby,' though, was sup-
posed to have a different sound for
each section and the way we did that
was to record it twice all the way through
in two different ways and then we
actually cut the tape in pieces and stuck
all the different sections together! We
still play it live, but we changed all the
sounds for the drum kit and spliced it in
on the record," Belk explained.
"I don't know how itcame to be like
that," he continued. "It was just like,
'Ok, let's do a really fast bit now!' It
actually had a brass band on it at one

4
The Wedding Present are patiently waiting for the new album from the patron saint of uncomplex pop - Nick Lowe.

point playing the chorus melody, and
we thought, 'That sounds really stu-
pid,' but it's just stupid enough as it is
now!" he joked.
The band has always been known
for their energetic live performances,
but as far as taking these strange songs
out on the road, Belk explained that
there were more than a few complica-
tions at first. "We're a lot tighter now
and we've got the hang of reproducing

the LP in a way, but it was difficult
getting the sounds and feel of it right.
We tried to work out 'Spangle,' but
there's so many strange elements we
couldn't produce live. We probably
would've gotten eggs thrown at us or
something!"
As for the future, Belk simply stated,
"I don't think about changing that
much. There's certainly no master
plan!" The Wedding Present will prob-

ably always be a pop band, but their
ultimately unfashionable approach and
creative spark make them anything but
the "least complex" of the bunch.
THE WEDDING PRESENT will be
co-headlining with the kings (and
queen) of slack punk, Superchunk, at
St. Andrews Hall tonight; Butterglory
will be opening th eshow. Tickets are .
$8.50 in advance; doors open at 8
p.m. for those 18 and older.

u . 'Squanto' fails to capture audiences

By PRASHANT TAMASKAR
One of the most popular film genres throughout the
history of Hollywood has been the documentation of con-
flicts between Native Americans and their archenemies, the.
"white man." The often recycled plots of these movies
focus on the battle between civilization and savagery,
between monotheism and paganism, and essentially be-
tween good and evil.

SQUANTO:
A WARRIOR'S TALE
Directed by
Xavier Koller
with Adam Beach
and Eric Schweig

Despite a
commendable,
yet not com-
pletely success-
ful attempt to
avoid stereo-
types, Walt
Disney Pic-
t u r e s '
"Squanto: A
Warrior's
Tale" fails to
establish itself

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tion. However, it is the failure to successfully resolve
conflicts that leads to "Squanto"'s downfall. .
Although itis apparent that the movie's director, Xaviei
Koller, tried to evade typical generalizations, he does not
fully attain this goal. Interestingly, it is the Europeans that
end up being more stereotypical than the Native Ameri-
cans. With the exception of a group of friars, nearly all of
the people view Squanto as a primitive, beastly, barely
human savage. No one takes offense to the way he is
abused, which makes the Europeans appear more insensi-
tive and brutish than the man they belittle.
However, the movie is not without questionable Native
American portrayals. Squanto learns the importance of
human life from the monks, a value he apparently lacked*
before his association with them. Also, his Dr. Doolittle-
like ability to talk to animals is rather asinine. And of
course, after learning to speak perfect English in an ex-
tremely short period of time, he chooses to communicate
with his native people in this language. In spite of these
shortcomings, the depiction of the Native Americans in
"Squanto" is fairly dignified.
Yet, there are many noteworthy facets to this movie. In
addition to the aforementioned complex plot and high
drama, the performances of most of the actors are solid,
especially considering their relative anonymity. Leading
the way is Adam Beach, who is very convincing in his first
major role. He plays Squanto with the warmth, charm, and
sensitivity that are required of a lead actor.
Although it's nearly impossible to disregard the weak-
nesses of the movie, what may be more important is the
positive portrayal of Native Americans. Considering
Hollywood's history of depicting "injuns," it's about time
something was done to fix this problem.
SQUANTO: A WARRIOR'S TALE is playing at
Briarwood and Showcase.

NOW AROUND CAMPUS:
*Mondays and Wednesdays 6-10 pm
In Markley Library
S*Mondays and Wednesdays 6-10 pm
In Bursley Conference Room
* Mondays 7-9 pm
In Ugli Room 2160
*Thursdays 7-9 pm
In Ugli Room 2166

as one of the silver screen's finer stories of cultural dissen-
sion.
"Squanto" begins with English explorers and traders
voyaging to the New World and encountering the inhabit-
ants of the land. Realizing the potential profit of displaying
"savages" to the general public of England, they choose to
abduct two men - Squanto (Adam Beach) and Epenow
(Eric Schweig). While across the Atlantic, Squanto man-
ages to escape, befriend a group of friars, and make his way
back home. However, when he discovers that his tribe has
been terminated, the protagonist must decide whether
revenge outweighs the value of human life.
The complexity and high drama of this film are surpris-
ingly impressive. Aside from the excessive idealism, it is
rather operose to identify this movie as a Disney produc-

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On tour now with
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