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March 31, 1999 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-03-31

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8 - The Michigan Daily -Wednesday, March 31, 1999

Dan Bell spins for his last
time at Blind Pig's Solar
By Jason BrchM
Daily Arts Writer
Dan Bell's final DJ performance ever
will occur tonight exclusively at Solar.
Best known for his unique style of tech-
no-based electronic music in the mid-r
'90s, Dan Bell plans to retire from Ding
to focus on music production. He will t
also channel energy into his record labels
-Accelerate and 7th City - which also
distribute several other record labels'
across the world.
This rare performance serves as a wan-
derful opportunity for University students
to witness one of techno's greats perform s
in the intimate confines of Solar at the'
Blind Pig. "I try to play a variety with lots
of energy in my DJ sets;' he said. "Not
strictly house, techno or tracks, but a com-f

'Roll' proves life is a ball

Roll Away
Psygnosis
Playstation
"Roll Away" is perhaps the
finest video game ever made
where you are a beach ball col-
lecting keys on a three dimen-
sional puzzle board. Running
over wooden boxes that drop out
from under you, running into
spikes that release your, uh, what-
ever they fill you with when
you're a beach ball star and skid-
ding off icy surfaces distinguish
this game from all the other beach
toy adventures out there.
To be honest, there doesn't
seem to be any good reason why
you're a beach ball in this game.
It may be just as probable as any-
thing else that would be rolling
and jumping around on a three
dimensional stone sculpture,
hanging far above a planet with a
sun that produces lens flare in the
game in order to open up some

sort of teleportation point as well
as pieces of fruit that when you
have enough of them allow you to
go to a bonus level, and sure, it's
way less complicated than virtu-
ally any RPG, but it's pretty left
field.
"Roll Away" ends up as a weird
mix of a racing game and a nor-
mal puzzle game. You're running
around a course and, like a racing
game, you have a limited amount
of time to finish the level. But
you also have to figure out the
equivalent of a maze in three
dimensions to get the goodies you
need before you leave the level,
which is traditionally the grounds
of puzzle games.
And like any good puzzle game
it engages you. Belief is easily
suspended, and you end up
accepting the fact that you are a
beach ball, except when you are a
particularly ugly one at that. As
long as you're rolling on the
course, you do not fall off
towards the far off ground. In

other words you can roll all the
way around an object that is per-
pendicular to the ground. That's
fine, in and of itself; you need to
reverse direction occasionally.
But this little quirk lets you fall
into the sky. It also inexplicably
lets you fall past another part of
the course, in spite of the fact that
you're in a position where you
should be sticking to it.
That quirk would be worse than
it is if you couldn't look down
and see where you're jumping.
After a couple games of leaping
stupidly into space, you get the
hang of it, and then only jump
stupidly into space when you're
overconfident:
"Roll Away" is a good value for
your beach ball video game buy-
ing dollar and decent for your
puzzle game dollar. If someone
would develop a game where
you're a beach ball at some horri-
ble WRIF-sponsored Pine Knob
rock show.
- Ted Watts

7 W
Dan Bell
Blind Pig
Tonight at 9:30

bination of all of
those styles. I also
like to drop some
classics in the
mix"
Born in Canada,
Bell eventually
moved to Detroit
in the early '90s to
join the city's tech-
no movement. He
first found global
acclaim on Richie
Hawtin's record
label, Plus 8, at the
dawn of the

s dour tey n LIg.y
Dan Bell stands in the Joe Louis Arena pedestrian tunnel that overlooks the Lodge.

decade with his aggressive style of techno
music unlike anything being produced at
that time in Detroit. He called himself
Cybersonik.
"Cybersonik started out as a solo pro-
ject of mine that was later signed to Plus
8," he said. "When the first single
'Technarchy' dropped it was a huge suc-
cess, and Richie Hawtin -who helped to
produce the single - became a full-time
member."
"After the first couple of releases
Cybersonik was being tailored for a major
label deal in the U.S." he continued. "But

after a nationwide tour with Moby and
Prodigy, both Richie and I decided that it
wasn't a project we were interested in pur-
suing."
Dan based his operations in Detroit and
continued producing music to popular
response, now calling himself DBX.
"Back when I did hip hop I made a name
for myself locally by producing tracks
that were very streamlined and electronic
sounding" he said.
"When I started recording solo again
after Cybersonik as DBX, I just continued
with my hip hop approach but applied it
to house and techno music,"he said. "The
result, I guess, was unique for it's time,
and it got a lot of other producers' atten-
tion."
Dan took a break from producing
music several years ago in order to focus
on his label and its distribution. But
unknown to most, he quietly has been
planning his return to the world of elec-
tronic music.

"The last record people probably
remember me from is 'Losing Control'
which came out in '94" he said. "I had to
stop producing for a few years when I ran
the distribution, but for the last year I have
been quietly producing music again."
"At first it was difficult to get thinking
like an artist after being involved in the
business end of things for so long, but
after a while it all started coming back,"
he said. "The new material is much
smoother and deeper than the original raw
DBX tracks"
"I plan to produce music the rest of my
life," he continued. "I don't think it is an
exaggeration when I say my labels
Accelerate or 7th City will probably still
be around in some form in the year 2030
or later. I want to be like Frank Lloyd
Wright and be do some of my greatest
work at 90 years old."
Electronic music enthusiasts can soon
expect a new release from Dan Bell called
"Warp" to be released on his Accelerate
label. Bell will also release a collection of
his older material, "Blip - The Early
Years" and an exciting new release from
John Tejada, "To Lead a Secret Life."
"All of the new material should be out
in a few months;" he said.
In the meantime, students should check
out Bell's final DJ performance tonight at
Solar. "I really want to have time to pro-
mote and push all of these projects that I
have been developing for the past year"
he said. "I love Ding but it takes such a
large part of my time that it makes it dif-
ficult to focus on the releases."
-I-I

Silent Hid
Konami
Playstation

I

"Silent Hill" proves there's nothing
like a grey, eyeless zombie toddler with
a knife and a bad attitude to make for an
interesting video game.
You're Harry Mason, some guy
vacationing with his daughter in the
resort town Silent Hill. Strangely, you
look like Ash in the Evil Dead movies
and not at all like Raymond Burr, and
your vacation has become a very good
"Resident Evil" type of game. Snow
falls but melts on the street that you run
through, in search of your daughter
Cheryl. It's foggy. And skinless dogs
and pterodactyls attack you.
That's right, "Silent Hill" has
earned its opening screen that says,
"There are violent and disturbing
images in this game" While your char-
acter comes across as a normal guy
who doesn't know how to shoot a gun,
his bullets still connect a lot of the time
and splatter a little blood. It's nowhere
near as gory as the "Resident Evil"
games, though; things don't fly apart
into little bits.
But this game is much more
atmospheric - when it's light out, a

Living dead haunt 'Hill'

constant fog surrounds you, limiting
visibility. When it's dark out, the fog
goes away, but you can see even less as
all you have is a little flashlight to use to
illuminate the aforementioned evil kids
and wildlife before they bite your knees
or peck at your eyes. Consequently, the
game is pretty disturbing. On the plus
side, you have some camera control in
the game and can look up a
Doberman's snout as it leaps at your
chest to tear a piece off for lunch.
The sounds of the game reinforce
the

white noise whenever there is some-
thing evil nearby. You don't even
scream when you're being killed, but
you do huff and puff when you're run-
ning. Creepy.
The puzzles you need to solve in
the game are a bit of a weak point;
they're too similar to Resident Evil puz-
zles, they're overly campy and they
seem out of place in such a sinister
game. You also have a bad habit of
coming to a full stop if you accidental-
ly let up on a controller button.
The opening CG movies give
glimpses into the story leading up to the
game, but it's hazy. Even playing
through the game itself, it's unclear pre-
cisely what is going on. The story
is open to interpretation. What
IA happens to Harry's daughter is
only implied, and whatever is
making the town evil is only
fuzzily explained. This could easi-
ly be intended, though. "Silent
Hill" plays like a fever dream in a
lot of ways. The story may be just
another way of reinforcing that.
Nevertheless, it's fun to stumble
around in the dark and get killed by the
shambling grotesqueries if for no other
reason than that you can turn on the
light and not worry about it anymore.
Until you go to sleep.
--Ted Watts

0
0r

....,

NJB I've noticed you for the past four years. If I
only had the courage to tell you how I feel. I think
I love you! I'll miss you. -NJ

).,

Stop by
or call 764-05 to have your
SENIOR WISH published April 15th
deadline March 31

the music, when it's A
playing, is industrial, in
the old "sounds like factory machin-
ery" way. But a lot of the time it's just
Harry's panicked footsteps and the
buzz of your radio, which gives off

./

't

m

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