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September 09, 1994 - Image 20

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-09-09

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4 - TheMichigan Daily - Friday, September 9, 1994

Labradford creates, not destroys

By ANDY DOLAN
Sometimes, amidst all of the fads,
genres and sub-genres of popular mu-
sic, one can't help but wonder about the
diverse sounds that wander outside its
familiar boundaries. While several
bands have explored this uncharted
realm, very few can actually claim
their sonic textures as being residents
of it. Oddly enough, Richmond, Vir-
ginia is home to one of these bands, a
youngoutfit that calls itself Labradford.
"We're trying to communicate feel-
ings and moods, as opposed to energy
or power or aggression," summarized
Mark Nelson, Labradford's guitarist
and vocalist. Nelson, along with
keyboardist Carter Brown and bassist
Bobby Donne comprise this trio that
prefers to use subtlety and calmness as
its means of extracting the deepest of
emotions from their listeners.
Labradford's art is undoubtedly at-
mospheric in nature, but it could never
be described as background music. As
the title of the opening track on their
debut album, "Prazision," sugests,
"Listening In Depth"describesthemost
rewarding way to experience theircraft.
As Nelson explained, "If you start with
the ideaofarocksong, it's apretty well
established form, soIthink it's hard not
to have that structure defining it. So I
think that when we start with some-
thing that's not like that, you don't

have the structure or the tradition or the
scene to tell you what it is immediately.
You're kind of thrown into our world."
It's somewhat tempting to think of
Labradford's music as being simply
"depressing," butNelson explained that
'We're trying to
communicate feelings
and moods, as opposed
to energy or power or
aggression.'
- Mark Nelson,
guitarist and vocalist,
Labrad ford
the band hopes to provoke something a
bit more meaningful than that. "We're
not depressing people by nature," he
said. "I just think a lot of it is that when
something is introspective, people as-
sociate that with depression. I don't
think it's depression so much as
aloneness or quietness. Fundamentally,
though some people find our music
depressing and some find it relaxing."
"There's very rarely any clear vi-
sions at any stage," Nelson said of the
band's method of creation, "but we
have a distaste for jamming for some
reason. So usually, we start with some

After "Natural Born Killers," you'll never be able to look at Woody Harrelson and think of "Cheers" again.
'Kers'Unot worth the hype

By SARAH STEWART
This is not the first article on "Natural Born Killers,"
Oliver Stone's melange of violence and experimental
cinematography, nor is it the last. But considering all of its
faults, it is surprising that the hype surrounding this film
has only partly diminished.

Natural Born
Killers
Directed by Oliver
Stone; with Juliette
Lewis and Woody
Harrelson.

The story,
based loosely on
a screenplay by
Q u e n t i n
Tarantino, is
straightforward.
Mickey (Woody
Harrelson) and
Mallory Knox
(Juliette Lewis)
are young people

in love. They are also mass murderers. They kill, we
watch. They go to prison, and we watch as they escape,
ultimately providing a demented example of a happy
ending.
In the first scene, one that's likely to leave the audience
gasping for air, Stone wastes no time digging into his bag
of tricks. The music blares, the color changes from one
moment to the next and the camera never has its head on
straight. Amidst all of this, Mickey and Mallory surface as
the lovers and killers we're supposed to be dying to love.
With this frantic start, the acting, story and character-
ization become features only as noteworthy as an airbag in
a Porsche. Although who said safety was a bad thing?
Although Stone should be commended for experi-
menting with what is cutting edge in the film industry, he
overdoes it. His use of flashing images - ranging any-
where from mating lions to an animated hairy beast
representing Mickey's evil -- are appropriate to the film's
action but too frequent, too repetitive and rarely stimulat-
ing.
He does create a brief niche of brilliance by presenting
Mallory's childhood abuse as a sitcom sarcastically en-
titled "I Love Mallory." Her father (Rodney Dangerfield)
is just as frightening as our murderous heroes, insisting
that Mallory shower for the sake of his personal enjoy-
ment.

Harrelson and Lewis seem natural
choices for the role of killers, but
with all of Stone's dressing, the
quality of their performances is
secondary.
The episode gains importance as the film progresses.
It becomes clear that Mallory's sexuality is nothing to be
reckoned with. The number of powerful acting sequences
in "Natural Born Killers" are few, but when Lewis asks
both of her lecherous murder victims if they still think that
she's sexy, we are reminded that Stone is not the only one
on the screen.
Harrelson and Lewis seem natural choices for the role
of killers, but with all of Stone's dressing, the quality of
their performances is secondary.
When the Geraldo Rivera-like news reporter (Robert
Downey Jr.) interviews the public about Mickey and
Mallory, it seems that the fictitious media has done a
better job of providing sympathy for their cause than the
filmmakers; these people actually "love" Mickey and
Mallory, while we long to get to know them better.
It would be wrong to claim that the violence in "Natu-
ral Born Killers" lacks potency. Nonetheless, do not
expect to relive the glory of the gory ear scene in "Reser-
voir Dogs" or even Christian Slater's bloody annihilation
of Gary Oldman in "True Romance," both Tarantino-
penned masterpieces.
Mallory scolds Mickey after he kills an American
Indian generous enough to befriend them, concluding a
scene that comes close to providing violence that's more
than just a visual aid. But thanks to its melodramatic tone,
it is more of an absurd non-sequitur than a successful
attempt at providing the intensity "Natural Born Killers"
typically lacks.
Maybe Stone's point is to demonstratejust how numbed
to violence the American public has become, but audi-
ences don't see movies to be taught a lesson. Isn't that
what the local news is for?
NA TURAL BORN KILLERS is playing at Ann Arbor 1
& 2

RECORDS
Continued from page 2
The album goes on in inventive and
entrancing ways. Songs like "Baby
Love"and"ShotDown" are someprime
examples of the raw power the Cows
have when it comes to writing music
that's better than at least 88.7 percent
of everything else that's coming out
nowadays. And they're even better live,
even if Selberg's revered bugle has
gone missing. And since they're tour-
ing soon, youjustmightget achanceto
see them. Show some intelligence and
latch onto this bovine unit.
- Ted Watts
Dick Dale
Unknown Territory
Hightone Records
King of the surf guitar, Dick Dale is
backed and geared for a new, young
and hip crowd. "Unknown Territory"
is an odd collection of tunes - a mix-
ture of blues, rockabilly and of course
surf instrumentals (with a few vocals
thrown in) but the highlight is of course
Dale's guitar work.
Intricate and light-speed paced,
Dale's fingerings treat your ears to
some delightful songs. Rumor also has
it that he uses high-gauge guitar stings
- we're talking deadly sharp strings
here that would shred Steve Vai's fin-
gers leaving nothing but threads of
flesh and a bloody mess.
Dale is talented, no doubt, but does
his work entertain? Yes ... and no. The
single "Scalped" is catchy and peppy,
while the cover of "California Sun" is
perked up by gut-wrenching vocals
courtesy of Dale. However, the wild
west theme that runs through half of the
tracks becomes tiresome after awhile,
and the cover of "Ring of Fire" is
disappointingly tame.
"Unknown Territory" is worthwhile
to pick up to see a real legendary guitar

player woop it up for the kids. Oh yeah,
Huey Lewis plays harmonica on two
tracks. Thrill!
- Matt Carlson
Whitesnake
Greatest Hits
Geffen
Remember the '80s? Were you like
me and thought, in your pre-high school
days, that certain bands really rocked?
If you did, one of those bands may have
been Whitesnake. I've got news for
you, my friend. You can't go home
again. We were wrong, OK?
Whitesnake bit. Worse than Def
Leppard, even.
Yeah, yeah, this disc sure has all the
big ones here, including a different
version of "Here I Go Again" so the
die-hard Whitesnake completists have
to buy it (snicker, snicker). Well, let me
tell you, those hits everyone liked so
much are the epitome of what you
might call popular crap metal ballad

idea for a guitar melody or a keyboard
sound that Carter gets."
Most of these sounds are created by
Brown's huge array of strictly analog-
style synthesizers. "(Analog) is much
more of an interactive technology,"
Nelson explained.
"You're given a series of ways to
construct however you want, where
with digital the emphasis is on creating
maybe a timpani or amuted trumpet or
whatever. The older keyboards a~e
based on the idea of a new instrument,
creating new sounds. I think the pio-
neers (of that equipment) had much
higher aspirations!"
Labradford's music doesn't seek to
destroy, redefine or even change the
face of popular music. It simply exists
outside of that entire framework, de-
veloping its own methods and tech-
niques for creating andconveyingemo-
tions through sound. Like all great
music, however, Labradford's greatest
success lies in the fact that their music
actually achieves this end.
LABRADFORD will be stopping in
at St.. Andrews Hall on Sunday,
September 11 along with Stereolab
and local dudes Outrageous Cherry.
Doors open at 8p.m., and
Labradford is first up, so get there
early! Tickets are only $6.50 (plus
service charge). Like all great shows,
you have to be 18 to get in.
thresholds and voices reachnewheights
was never really good and it sound
even worse in hindsight.
Oh well. If you were disappointed
by Coverdale-Page, you should buy
this just to truly understand how much
better David Coverdale has gotten. Or
better yet, turn on an AOR station and
see how far Jimmy Page has fallen.
- Ted Watts
Pale Saints
Slow Buildings
4AD
Pale Saints are the archetypal 4 AD
band: within their songs one can find
bits and pieces of their artsy brethren,
like the sonic experimentation of HIs
Name Is Alive, the crunchy guitars of
the Pixies, the pop genius of the Breed-
ers and the dulcet vocals ofBelly. These
elements combine beautifully in th*
first single off "Slow Buildings," the
three-minute gem "Angel (Will You
Be My)." Singer Meriel Barham's vo-
cals are simaultaneously sweet, angry,
and sad, and the rest of the band plays
competently on songs like "One Blue
Hill," "Under Your Nose," and "Little
Gesture."The extendedjams like "King
Fade" and "Henry" are either deep and
intense or tedious, depending on one'
frame of mind. Pretentious title aside,
"Slow Buildings" is atestament to Pale
Saints' talent and versatility.
- Heather Phares
Nas
illmatic
Columbia
Given instant classic status by at
least one prominent hip-hop magazine
this is certainly no joke. Lyrics rain
down over solid production courtesy
of some of the best - Premier
(Gangstarr), Pete Rock, Large Profes-
sor and Q-Tip (A Tribe Called Quest)
- with a flow that is hard to come by.
Nas at first listen comes off like a
gangster type, but even with messages

that are disturbing his lyrical skill is
.inescapable.
When looking deeper into the; al-
bum, Nas goes waybeyond the aver-
age hard rock; bringing music which
demands reflection. For instance on
"Life's a Bitch", Nas first simply seems
like a negative brother, but as a live
trumpet blows at the end we realize
there is something more. As the album
flows on, the dark and soulful sadness
overwhelms the anger, bringing a fla-
vor that is head-bobbin',serious and ali
the way live. It's something new but
familiar. Check it out ya'll.
- Dustin Howes

Coverdale

crap. Over-produced corporate "metal"
from the '80s involving guitars with
too much treble and singers with their
undies pulled up so high that their pain

ARE YOU, LIKE, ARTISTIC?
CAN YOU, LIKE, DRAW AND STUFF?
YEAH? COOL.
SHOW US YOUR THINGIES. DRAWINGS,
WE MEAN. OR CARTOONS. CARTOONS
ARE COOL TOO. YEAH.
BRING THEM BY 420 MAYNARD. ASK.
FOR TOM, MELISSA, JOHN OR TED.

Thee Hypnotics

U - -

Earn credit in the community
SOCIOLOGY 389 EDUCATION
2-4 CREDITS
Community Service Learning

The Very Crystal Speed
Machine
american
The first time I put this recording in
my trusty compact disc player, I started
044 to laugh out loud. Pure cheese rock!
After this preliminary stage of intoxi-
cating chuckles came the anger- how
dare this British band try to pass this
over on the consumer public as a seri-
nusnrietWeal kn, tha , heB,,s

3171

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