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April 15, 1996 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-04-15

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Sci-fi Soviet style
Andrei Tarkovsky's "Solaris" is not your ordinary science-fiction movie.
While it may have your typical futuristic plot, the film is, as you might
expect, spoken in Russian. Besides, it has a special "Russian" feel that
can only be found in a visit to Moscow or after a viewing of the film.
Going to the Michigan Theater today at 4:15 and 7:15 p.m. and paying
only $5 as a student is the much cheaper option.

Monday
April 15, 1996

Silkworm weaves fine indie music

By Heather Phares
Daily Arts Writer
Silkworm is the quintessential hard-
working, no-frills indie rock band.
Along with cranking out a wonderful
new double album, "Firewater," in just
two weeks, the group also shows a
remarkable talent for doing many things
at once.
Bassist Tim Midgett and guitarist
Andy Cohen eked out time for a phone
interview during a recording session
with Steve Albini in Chicago that took
place on a break from their current U.S.
tour. Along with touring four to six
months out of every year, the band also
records as often as possible.
Midgett explained the group's re-
cording philosophy: "We generally
don't try to make records, wejust record
stuff when it's ready to be recorded.
When it seems like it's gonna turn into
a record, we turn it into a record."
This Zen-like attitude stretched into
recording "Firewater." Though the band
completed the record relatively quickly,
especially compared to bands who take
yearsto complete theirmagnum opuses,
to Cohen the sessions were a walk in a
park. "It went great, very relaxed,"
Cohen explained. "On ourotherrecords
we always had budgetary constraints,
so they were always really hurried and
we had to work really long days. With
'Firewater,' we had two weeks, so we
worked half days most of the time. I
think it shows; it sounds a lot better than
some of our other stuff."
Indeed, "Firewater" might be the
group's finest effort to date. Though
Silkworm's second guitarist and third
songwriter, Joel Phelps, left the group
at the beginning of last year, the group
is none the worse for it. "Nerves," "Tar-
nished Angel," "Severance Pay" and
"Miracle Mile" are sparse, tight songs
that convey Silkworm's emotional pull

eloquently.
Silkworm's music finds its roots in
the group's origins in Montana. Though
the band currently resides in Seattle,
Cohen has little love for his adopted
home.
"I don't feel any affection towards
Seattle at all," he said. "If you describe
the culture in New York, it's very de-
monstrative. In Seattle, it's very cold.
People don't seem very interested in
getting to know you. The scene is small
and incestuous and exclusive. So even
though we're sort of insiders at this
point, it's not with any great joy that I
view that status. Our formative years
were in Montana, and you can never
really get away from that."

Cohen has an equally jaded view 00
the indie rock scene. "I think it's abys-
mal. There's too many bands, and not
enough good bands. I wish people would
think a bit more before putting material
out; just because you're in a band and
you have songs doesn't mean you should
put out a CD. Wait for a while; if you
stick with it, your music will change for
the better. Don't put a CD that you're
only going to glut the market with.
Obviously there's exceptions to thiB
but usually you should just hang on and
play more and do things when you're
ready, not just because you can."
And Silkworm, despite' its
quintessentially indie image, breaks all
the rules and gets away with it.

James needs a big monocle to see through because clay figures have infamously bad vision, you know.
By Ted Watts ment, coming from the makers of "Nightmare."
Daily Fine Arts Editor The movie does make interesting use of multiple types
To begin with, "James and the Giant Peach" has the of filming: It uses live action at the beginning and end;
baggage of being a follow-up to "The Nightmare Before stop-motion animation for most of the middle of the
Christmas." It has essentially the same creative team, except movie; cut-out animation in one dream sequence; com-

that Tim Burton more or less abandoned
the project to work on "Mars Attacks."
The animation is just as deftly done on
"James," but it is lacking in other areas.
It is the story of an orphaned boy
named James (Paul Terry), who lives
with his evil Aunts Spiker (Joanna
Lumley) and Sponge (Miriam
Margolyes). James gets some magic
tongues, which infect a peach tree and
some bugs, making them all huge and
anthropomorphizing the bugs. The re-
sulting motley crew of crawlers and
James escape the evil aunts and travel
around -until they get to New York.
But you knew all that, because you

REVIEW
James and the
Giant Peach
Directed by Henry Selick
with Paul Terry, Joanna
Lumley, Susan Sarandon
and Richard Dreyfuss
At Showcase

puter-generated animation with a
shark; and some traditional cel ani-
mation for some effects in the movie.
The computer and stop motion ani-
mations blend convincingly together,
while the live action and cut-out ani-
mation are meant to clash with other
techniques - the first as a bleak,
intentionally unreal reality and the
second as a dream within the fantasy
inside the peach.
There is a small problem with the
live-action portions, however. They end
up a bit wishy-washy and not particu-
larly real or unreal. The world is styl-
ized and simplified, but not to a par-

Montana's Silkworm is the quintessential Indie rock band.

Arts Orchest i brings improv to U'
Unconventional ensemble enchants with style

read the book "James and the Giant Peach" when you were
a kid, right?
The film is short, clocking in at well under an hour and
a half. And there is simply too much story to cram into that
space. Even with large excisions of story elements from
Roald Dahl's original book, "James" still seems rushed.
The story moves along at a breakneck pace when a more
leisurely one would be more appropriate and more intel-
ligible.
There is virtually no time for in-depth character devel-
opment -except for James; and most of his development
seems designed to
get across the
"message" of
th e p icture.
:r Adding to the
feeling of hur-
riedness is the
shortness of
most of the
shots in the
film. An old
standby of
stop motion
animation
(because it is
easier to ex-
ecute shorter
shots without
messed-up
movement in
a puppet) is a
disappoint-

ticularly large extent.
The look of the rest of the movie also seems to be
lacking positive elements when it is compared to "Night-
mare" for several reasons.
First, the visuals in "Nightmare" are dark and very
inhuman. In "James," however, the characters are largely
either humans or bugs trying to look like humans. The
characters are always in the light; this takes away from the
wonderful possibilities of shadow that are inherent in-
stop-motion.
Second, the conceptual designer for the movie, children's
book illustrator Lane Smith, doesn't seem to have designed
things with animation in mind.
Third, the story calls for far too sparse a set to realize the
best animation. "Nightmare" had tons of itchy little things
lying around the sets, but "James" takes place in, around
and on top of a peach. There's a bunch of smooth peach
flesh, but not a lot of itchy little animatable things. "Luke-
warm" is an unfortunately apropos adjective for this film
as a whole.
So the movie ends up falling far short of its possibilities.
The animation itself is almost invisible. And since height-
ened realism was a goal of the animators, they seem to have
done what they intended to accomplish. But when the anima-
tion is noticeable, it is well worth the attention.
In one scene, Centipede is swinging earthworm around,
and it is quite obvious that it is unreal. But broad strokes like
this one are wonderful and really make the movie.
Earthworm's glasses are probably the most expressive ani-
mated devices in the film, and they are fundamentally impos-
sible. But that's what the movie needs more of. Oh well, at
least it's still different from anything else around. And a
change of pace is a good thing.

By Anitha Chalam
For the Daily
For most people, the word "orches-
tra" immediately conjures up images
of string players galore decked out in
black formal wear. The Creative Arts
Orchestra aims to change that view.
Generally, the first time one experi-
ences the Creative Arts Orchestra,
unless one has been warned, one
comes in foolishly expecting the stan-
dard orchestral ar-
rangement of vio-
lins and other
stringed instru- .iro
ments.
As the lights start
to dim,however, the Rack
first-time listener
begins to wonder

groups in the University's School of
Music, and the songs it plays not only
relax the timid first-time listener, but
draw them back for more perfor-
mances later on.
On Thursday evening the Creative
Arts Orchestra gave a wonderful per-
formance, all of the songs improvised,
all of them nice to hear.
The group started without intro-
duction. Starting with a single flute,

REVIEW
eative Arts
Orchestra
ham Auditorium
April 11, 1996

an eerie song de-
veloped. Slowly,
the other instru-
ments joined in.
The music was
steady, like
clockwork at
times, and turbu-
lent, like a storm,
at others. It fi-

tal, in both small ensembles of just*
few players, and in other songs 'that
involved the whole group. Particularly
nice was the third piece, that used the
piano, the flute and a drum. The song
was introduced as a "pseudo-raga" try-
ing to emulate the music of Northern
India.
Although it seems suspiciou :that
three people would randomly decide
to play a raga, the song sounded pret&
clearly improvised, with the, piaW
playing a drone accompaniment to
the flute melody, with the drum trying
to imitate the sound of a tabala, an
Indian drum.
While it sounded more Middle East-
ern than Indian at times, it was a noble
and fairly successful attempt; it received
the most applause of any piece that
night.
The last song echoed a Creative
Arts Orchestra tradition establishe
long ago, where a "guest coniucto
is chosen randomly from the audi-
ence.
Angela, the chosen leader, directed
the piece by doing a funny dance. The
sound obtained by such dancing, how-
ever, was pretty nice. Both the audi-
ence and the performers seemed to
enjoy it.
The Creative Arts Orchestra performs
many times during the year, an'd
performances are free. Bearing that in
mind, make sure to see a performance
soon.

why there are no
songs listed on the program and, for
that matter, why are there no stands
on the stage. Then, the bold title hits
them: An Evening of Improvised
Music.
Next, the musicians saunter on to
the stage, wearing anything but tux-
edos and long skirts, the ensemble
consisting of only two violins and
including such unconventional or-
chestra instruments as voice and elec-
tric guitar. The viewer is confused,
and perhaps even a bit scared, but it's
too late to leave, the music is about to
begin. Luckily, the Creative Arts Or-
chestra is one of the most interesting

nally collapsed down to the sound of
two female voices, and then ended.
Not your typical concert piece, but
then this isn't your typical concert
orchestra.
After this strange first piece came the
introduction, or the explanation, as you
prefer.
Ed Sarath, director of the Creative
Arts Orchestra, introduced the group
and its mission. He announced that the
night's performance was to be self-
directed, and then he 19ft the stage,
leaving his performers to play on their
own.
The group played nine selections to-

e

_____________-__ A. __________ ______________ _ _._

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