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April 20, 1999 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-04-20

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 20, 1999 -15

'Faerie' features Kravitz

LUNG TRANSCENDS CATEGORIZATION

The vast world of electronic music is
difficult to navigate for most. Unlike
popular musical styles such as rap, rock
'n' roll or heavy metal or Hollywood
cinema, one cannot simply categorize
electronic music artists into groupings
such as techno, house or jungle. Though
this does occur due to necessity of pro-
motion, there is no specific formula to
most electronic music with the excep-
tion of some major label artists hoping
to market themselves to the masses.
The reason for the lack of a pre-

Mannequin
Lung
The Art of Travel
Plug Research
Reviewed by
Daily Arts Writer
Jason Birchmeier

dictable formula
lies in the cre-
ative, idealistic
nature of elec-
tronic music.
Mannequin
Lung's new
album "The Art
of Travel"
released on the
San Francisco-
based record

Mannequin Lung focuses much more
on percussive sounds than Aphex Twin,
both artists desire to use untraditional
sounds created with computer technolo-
gy instead of the somewhat cliched
sounds of the Roland 909, 808 and 303
drum machines characterizing most
techno and house music.
Another way to explain the music of
Mannequin Lung is to discuss what it
ignores. Unlike drum 'n' bass and hip-
hop, there are no breakbeats polluting
the sounds of "The Art of Travel."
Mannequin Lung also mostly avoids the
ambient backdrops and intense velocity
of trance or the jackhammering beats of
hardcore or gabba.
Keep in mind also that Mannequin
Lung attempts in no way to exploit pop-
ular motifs or to rework past classics in
an attempt to appeal to mainstream
audiences such as popular electronic
artists such as Fatboy Slim, Prodigy and
The Chemical Brothers have. This
album is targeted at affluent listeners
who appreciate the conceptual ideals of
artistic innovation not those looking for
the next trend.
Nothing on this album will evoke
intense emotions or make your booty
bounce excessively, yet it is a work
that should be respected as an honest
attempt by a talented artist interested
in presenting new ideas. A re-exami-
nation in ten years will determine
how novel his concepts really are. It
often takes time for audiences to
comprehend and appreciate the true
genius of classic art.

eccentric Freddie
Cree
Summer
Street Faerie
Sony Records
Reviewed by
Daily Arts Writer
Quan Williams

on the college-
themed sitcom
"A Different
World." With her
debut "Street
Faerie," she
brings Lenny
Kravitz in to help
her buck the
trend.
Recruiting
Kravitz was a
definite plus. The

It's a rarity that a television/film
actor or actress successfully makes the
transition from stage and screen to the
music profession. For every success
story like Brandy, you have about
three flops like Don Johnson, Eddie
Murphy and Tatyana Ali. So many of
these stars have made so many utterly
forgettable music debuts that one is led
to wonder why any of them even try.
Enter Cree Summer, about five years
removed from her two-year stint as the

label Plug Research is a perfect example
of music transcending categorization.
The 15 songs, found on "The Art of
Travel" blend together well to form a
mostly instrumental album character-
ized by percussive rhythms, alien
sounding melodies and a desire to
experiment. Some of the songs exist
only as short poetic sound sketches last-
ing under two minutes while other songs
prove epic, surpassing the five-minute
mark.
Another slightly more ambiguous
approach to understanding the sounds

found on the album is to acknowledge
the various styles of electronic music
Mannequin Lung draws from for his
innovative synergy. This method is per-
haps the best way to communicate the
attributes of the music to others.
Immediately, elements of Detroit-
style techno can be found in the album's
underlying bass beats and various layers
of complimentary middle and high fre-
quency rhythms. At the same time
though, most of the songs on "The Art
of Travel" fail to exploit the sensual ele-
ments of Detroit techno: strings, synths
and serenity.

The structural crafting of the songs
themselves is characterized best with a
comparison to the music released by the
popular German record label Basic
Channel. The rhythms remain symmet-
ric and looped onto one another with
continual variations to avoid monotony.
Yet the slight monotony of the symmet-
ric, looped nature of the rhythms focus-
es the mind of the listener more onto the
texture than the actions of the sounds.
The odd sounds comprising the beats
and rhythms can also best be described
with a comparison to experimental
artists such as Aphex Twin. Though

production on the album is crisp, and
many of the tunes grab your attention
and hold it for the duration of the song.
The light mandolin and hard drums of
"Miss Moon" are extremely catchy.
The melodic beginning of "Fall" is
both mellow and foreboding, until it
explodes with rage midway through
the song.
Summer's singing and vocal
arrangement is also clever and engag-
ing. Her voice complements Kravitz's
production almost perfectly.
This is evident on the introspective
"Deliciously Down," which is obvi-
ously the best song on the album.
"Angry Boy" moves well, and Kravitz
even lends his own voice to the sultry

"Mean Sleep." Summer is vocally at
her best when singing the folk-influ-
enced "Naheo."
Songwriting is usually the key that
separates the good albums from the
great ones, and this is the case with
"Street Faerie." Summer's cryptic
songwriting may give many listeners
headaches trying to figure out what
the heck she's singing about, and the
lyrics being printed in the CD booklet
only further confuse things. You know
she's talking about something deep
and profound, like on the abortion-
themed "Still Heart,' but you just can't
decode all of her riddles. Also,
Kravitz's production misses the mark
on the awkward but well meaning
"Curious White Boy,' "Life Goes On"
sounds rushed, and "Soul Sister" is flat
out boring.
Although the album may leave you
scratching your head at times, it is a
solid first effort for the former TV
actress. With "Street Faerie," Cree
Summer gives a preview of what could
be a promising music career, which is
much more than most other actor-
turned-musicians can say.

-Swimmer debut makes hard rock seem 'Surreal'

Swimmer
Surreal
Warner/Maverick
Reviewed by
Daily Arts Writer
Adlin Rosli
sistible musical

Rising out of
the competitive
Nevi York music
circuit is a band
called Swimmer.
With an uncanny
knack for
putting passion
and hard rocking
grooves togeth-
er, Swimmer has
created an irre-
cocktail, and the

and '70s glam-rock icons like Bowie.
At the helm of the group's debut
album, "Surreal," is singer Anday
McCarron, who owns of one of the
most unique voices to come out in
the current crop of contemporary
musical offerings. A rough descrip-
tion would go something like this:
His voice resembles a merging of
Bob Dylan with Radiohead's Thom
Yorke.
His voice appears odd at first, but
after a while becomes something of a
musical magnet, pulling the listener
into paying attention to every sylla-

ble and melody sung.
McCarron croons with all his heart
on the slower numbers, like the emo-
tional opening track, "Surreal," and
sneers wickedly with cynicism on the
more aggressive numbers, like "Kick
In The Head," displaying an impres-
sive array of vocal capabilities.
It is not McCarron's singing alone,
however, that carries the album, as.
the music provided by the rest of the
group, consisting of guitarist Jeff
Thall, bassist James Elliott and
drummer Chad Royce, serves well in
rounding out the package. On the

group's debut, McCarron and com-
pany display a musical swagger rich
in arrogance and sensitivity, some-
thing most bands only manage to
hint at with their second or third
efforts.
The group is never shy of playing
with musical dynamics and resul-
tantly manages to deliver an album's
worth of guitar-heavy pop gems.
Standout number "Dirty Word," for
instance, is destined for heavy radio
rotation with its playful and catchy
vocal melody matched to a poppy
start-stop attack pattern.

"Spaced Out Hat" is another out-
standing number that is well comple-
mented by a lush string section. The
group proves once more on this song
that it is well versed in the methods
of milking a song's dynamics to
achieve its highest emotional impact.
Production on the album was han-
dled by Dave Jerden, who has worked
with a wide range of musicians,
including Jane's Addiction, Alice In
Chains and Anthrax. His crisp clear
work on Swimmer's "Surreal" is a def-
inite plus to the record as he manages
to beautifully capture the group's many

:
. _ ..

.:,:: _
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different moods.
There is nothing "Surreal" about
Swimmer's dazzling debut release. It
is a solid record, and well worth your
investigation.

group delivers a performance akin to
contemporary acts like Radiohead

3arrels of bugs flip onto video

By Matthew Barrett
and Aaron Rich
Daily Arts Writers
Fans of Eddie Murphy's comedy
"Life," which opened recently in
theaters, should rush out to check
out some of
director Ted
Demme's earli-
er work in
NewOn "Monument
Video This A v e . "
Week Funnyman
Dennis Leary
brings in da
noise and da funk in this surefire
drama about a bunch of Irish hoods
high on cocaine. Plus it has Famke
-lnssen.
The release of "A Night at the
Roxbury" brings up an interesting
list of things that do more hurt than
good: James Cameron and

"Titanic," "The Matrix," remaking
Hitchcock, and Gretchen Mol.
Bad things aside, "Roxbury" tells a
touching tale of night life in the big
city. Tame ones beware, the beasts
of the night are on the prowl.
As mentioned above remaking
Hitchcock is not a good idea.
Evidence for this comes in the
form of the made for television
version of "Rear Window." Starring
Christopher Reeve, Daryl Hannah
and Robert Forster (Max Cherry in
our hearts) this revamp has nothing
on its predecessor.
Mo' bugs, less thugs. Flip and
the fam rip up a little more than
soil in the hard-hitting bug drama
"A Bug's Life." Straight from'
Disney Pixar, the makers of "Toy
Story," this animated classic keeps
it real, complete with a killer
voiceover from Kevin Spacey.

"Simon Birch," the tale of a
small boy and his big heart is also
new on video today. Starring
Ashley Judd in a smashing role and
Oliver Platt as Simon's friend, this
movie is sure to touch the soft bone
in all of us.
Also check out "The Siege,"
keep it real in the summer and look
out for the Tigers in late October.
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