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January 25, 2000 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-01-25

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9 -The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 25, 2000

DANGELO CASTS SPELL WITH 'VOODOO'

Track is a'Scream' with
singer-actor Arquette

Let's rewind back to 1995. On the music
scene, R&B was now several years into the "new
jack swing" era that had produced such acts as
Jodeci and Mary J. Blige. Due to similar and
formulaic production motivated by profit (a
R&B singer + a rapper = platinum), hip-hop and
R&B began to sound similar. This marriage of
genres hurt R&B to the extent of making it stag-
nant. Singer after singer and group after group
Teleased albums and, with some exceptions, few
renained on the scene for very long.
Enter D'Angelo. D'Angelo served as a direct
slap in the face to what had become the R&B
status quo. Unlike many of his peers, he wrote,
produced and played the instruments (yes, real
instruments) on most of the tracks on his debut
release. "Brown Sugar." The
heart-felt passion found in
D'Angelo's music, voice
and lyrics bridged a gap
D'Angelo between hip-hop and R&B
Voodoo while not compromising the
Virgin Records integrity of the latter genre.
He gained the respect of a
Reviewed young audience that was not
for the Daily only over a decade removed
by W. Jacarl Melton from R&B luminaries such
as Marvin Gaye and Stevie
Wonder but also quickly forgetting artists like
Prince. Also, D'Angelo opened the doors for
new artists like Maxwell, Eryka Badu, and
Detroit's own Davina.
But where did he go? Four years passed and
the only indications of D'Angelo's musical
activities primarily came in the form of two
duets and production on his love interest Angie
Stone's 1999 album. The year 2000 begins with
D Angelo's new album "Voodoo," which is
released under much the same circumstances as
"Brown Sugar." R&B is . rather stagnant.

although not as bad as 1995, and is awaiting a
breath of fresh air.
Recruiting the musical talent of artists like
?uestlove of the Roots, Raphael Saadiq, Angie
Stone and DJ Premier. D'Angelo looks to create
the same love vibe found present on his previous
effort. However, he seems also to reflect on
issues ranging from greed to his fatherhood.
On the track "Devil's Pie," D'Angelo sings over a
patented DJ Premier beat about the greed he con-
stantly sees in life but more specifically the music
business. While the pie is something that is initially
very attractive, obtaining it requires selling one's
soul, an option D'Angelo would rather not exercise.
He holds the view that "Time has come for most of
us/2 choose in which God we trust," and, unfortu-
nately, too many artists are choosing to take a piece
of this pie. Many acts in the urban music realm have
proven his analysis painfully true.
"Left & Right" follows somewhat in the tradition
of "Brown Sugar," as D'Angelo describes that ever-

elusive woman who plays with his heart. He offers his
assistance in helping her satisfy her "womanly
needs" but it is not obvious if she is receptive or not.
Method Man and Redman also bless this track by
adding their own propositions, but they lack
D'Angelo's smoothness.
Displaying his more romantic side, D'Angelo pre-
sents "Untitled (How Does It Feel)." This track,
which features an attention-getting video, will most
likely draw comparisons to his last album's "Lady"
for its soulful expression of love. It is easy to compare
D'Angelo's style to that of Prince. He manages to hit
notes and present his lyrics in a manner that shows
deep emotion and evokes similar feelings (along with
gentle head nods and toe taps) in his listeners.
The final of the album's 13-tracks, is entitled
"Africa." Here, D'Angelo writes about the changes
that have occurred in his life, most presumably from
the birth of his children. The simplicity of the drum
beat along with a children's lullaby quality to the song
make for a track that is enjoyable yet provokes
thoughts of how selective events can shape lives for-
ever.
Overall, "Voodoo" is a musically strong album.
For some listeners, D'Angelo's singing style may
be difficult to decipher. At times his speech is
slurred and it is not always clear what he is saying.
There is a reason, however. D'Angelo wants his
audience to be active listeners, something much of
today's "urban" music does not require. Actively
listening can lead the listener to appreciate more
the effort D'Angelo has put into this album and
his unique artistry. After all, he has had to endure
being dropped by his original label and constantly
asked when this album (it has been in the works
since 1998) would come out. The least the audi-
ence can do is try to absorb all that he is doing. So
once again, D'Angelo challenges his audience to
grow and dare to groove to a style that goes
against what has become the norm in R&B.

Yes, it's true. There is a third "Scream"
movie set for release next month, and in
contrast to its plot, the movie's sound-
track is largely original and entertaining.
Instead of Neve and Courteny, the
soundtrack stars Creed and 16 more of
rock music's rising stars: ,Additionally,
there is a special appearance by, well,
David Arquette.
For those of you sick of the massive
media exposure that Creed has received
over the past three years, this album is
sure to add to that sentiment. The
album's first single, "What if," is one of
two songs included that were written and
performed by the band. The second, "Is
this the cnd,' was recorded specifically
for the sound-
track. Not only
does the sound-
track feature two
Scream 3 tracks written and
Original Sdtrk. performed by
i Creed, the album
Wind-Up Records was produced by'.
Reviewed by the omnipresent
Daily Arts Writer group as well.
David Reamer Aside from
Creed's musical
contributions, the bands and songs com-
prising the rest of the soundtrack were
hand-picked by members of the band.
The soundtrack features previously
unreleased tracks from six other major
rock bands as well. Some of the better
new tracks are Finger Eleven's contribu-
tion, "Suffocate,"and "So Real,"record-
ed by demented disco rockers Static-X.
Powerman 5000's arena anthem "Get on,
Get off" heads the list of average origi-
nal tracks, which includes songs from
American Pearl, Incubus and Sevendust.
One of the biggest surprises of the
album is the track "Click Click" per-
formed by Ear2000. The band is fronted
by annoying commercial guy and
"Scream" trilogy star Arquette, but
unlike the actor, it doesn't suck. In the

vein of obnoxious hip-hop/metal, a fair-
ly popular genre these days, "Click
Click" actually has a decent beat and
catchy lyrics, and is on the whole more
palatable than its originator.
In addition to the new material on the
album, the "Scream 3" soundtrack
also features previously recorded
tracks from such. notable bands as
System of a Down, Coal Chambe,
Fuel, Slipknot, Orgy and Staind. For
the most part these tracks are some of
their respective bands' better songs,
while staying away from released sin-
gles and radio hits. One of the most
irritating songs on the album is. a
"clean" version of Godsmack's "Tine
Bomb," in which a certain word
beginning with the letter "F" is edited
out so often, the track sounds as if
someone has placed a large scratch on
the cd.
Taken as a whole, the "Scream 3"
soundtrack is an accurate representa-
tion of who's hot on today's young hard
rock scene, without relying too heavily
on established acts or previously popu-
lar songs. For it's new music alone, the
album is worth a listen; as a sampler of
modern rock, it lives up to its pred&
cessors, featuring an equal mix of pop-
ular bands and newcomers. And"of
course, Mr. Arquette.

Watchful' Amoeba too minute

:The press release for this CD describes
A:moeba's "Watchful" as "an introspective of
f4ded memories." In some regard this statement is
true, as after a listen to this
release, it is quite forgettable.
* * Amoeba is actually ambient
music composer Robert
Amoeba Rich's new moniker for a col-
laborative project with gui-
Watchful tarist Rick Davies. Rich, who
Release Records has built a career on highly
'Reviewed by stylized mood setting albums,
Daily Arts Writer somehow seems to not be at
Adlin Rosi his best this time around.
What "Watchful" has to
offer is a collection of tunes that sometimes recall
ther-ethereal songmanship of Dead Can Dance,

Amber Asylum and sometimes the bland muzak
ala "Pure Moods." Throughout this release Rich
and Davies reach for thinking man's pop songs but
generally fall a little short.
What seems to be the problem is that there is a sig-
nificant lack of memorable melodies and musical
movements on most of these songs. Sure there are plen-
ty of lush soundscapes and odd sounding guitars dashed
generously throughout "Watchful," but without a strong
melody line to hold the listener's attention the tapestry
just is not able to make any point at all.
Rich and Davies obviously spent a lot of effort
on this release. eVident through this sound tapestry
and the intricate nature of the arrangements. But,
alas, the whole thing sounds like the musicians
were enraptured more in the minute details that
went into the process of making the music rather

Enigma reflects discord,
harony with 'Mirror'

.,az .
:5* ; I
't

than paying attention to the actual music itself.
Amoeba is unfortunately a disappointing addition
to Rich's solid catalog of musical work.

'Sunday' Soundtrack fumbles the ball with crap rap, rock

iven the diverse and enormous
amount of music filling the back-
ground of the film, the soundtrack for
"Any Given Sunday" is a major disap-
pointment. It really could have been a
great album capable of bringing
together an array of ecstatic electronic,
rock and rap music. Unfortunately the
profit-hungry executives at Atlantic
records chose to ignore many of the

better rap and rock
Any Given
Sunday
Original Sdtrk.
Atlantic
Reviewed by
Daily Arts Writer
Jason Birchmeier

songs in the film
and decided it
would be best for
album sales if
they didn't
include any of
the electronic
music that gave
the film such an
intense edge.
In fact, even
with Atlantic's
choice to market
this soundtrack

theme song, the R&B-flavored "Any
Given Sunday" sung by actor Jamie
Foxx, Common and Guru. Yet on the
other hand this mellow song, with its
relaxed tone and aura of pure soul, gets
rudely juxtaposed by the hard rap of
artists such as Mobb Deep and DMX
and the aggressive rock of artists such
as Godsmack and Kid Rock.
It almost seems as though Atlantic is
trying to market this album to both of
the two very opposing markets of rap
and heavy metal. While this is a poor
idea to begin with, they do just as poor
a job of bridging this wide gap. Kid
Rock may be a white trash bigot from
the trailer park with a rather talented
ability to merge rapping with a hard
rock Ted Nugent-mentality, but he is
probably the last artist hip-hop fans
would want to have featured on their
album. Similarly, it's almost as diffi-
cult to envision fans of Godsmack or
Hole rocking out to Missy
"Misdemeanor" Elliott or Trick
Daddy's contributions to this confused
soundtrack.
Atlantic would have been better off

getting rid of the hard rock and focus-
ing exclusively on R&B and hip-hop,
no matter how misrepresentative this
would be of the actual music found in
the film. First of all, the rock songs are
rather poor. Kid Rock's "Fuck That"
may be rebellious and exploding with
rude attitude, but it just doesn't belong.
Similarly, Hole's "Be a Man" may
share some thematic qualities with the
thug mentality of DMX and Mobb
Deep, but, again, it just doesn't belong
on this album. The remaining rock
tracks by Godsmack, P.O.D. and
Overseer are forgettable for the most
part.
The rap songs featured on "Any
Given Sunday" really aren't much bet-
ter. though. LL Cool J's "Shut 'Em
Down" shows the ever-changing artist
abandoning his traditional approach in
an attempt to rap quickly, like a mem-
ber of Bone. It isn't very convincing,
but it's a new sound for LL and has an
interesting beat. DMX's contribution
ends up as the best rap song on the
album. It's too bad that the song, "My
Niggas," has already been released on
his "Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My
Blood" album that several million rap
listeners already own.
There is a certain hint of irony in
Mobb Deep's "Never Goin' Back" that
makes this album seem even more dis-
appointing to anyone who has seen the
film. The man responsible for this
song's beats, Havoc, uses one of
Mobv's most beautiful ambient tracks,
"God Moving Over the Face of the
Water," as the foundation for his song,

Enigma, the group known to many
Americans simply for their reverse-
motion music video, "Return- to
Innocence," has returned from a four
year absence with its newest album,
"The Screen Behind The Mirror." The
new release, also known as "Enigma 4"
to those keeping count, marks another
evolution of the sound that made the
band a success in the Easy Listening and
New Age markets.
Like Enigma's prior albums, "The
Screen Behind The Mirror" is thematic,
beginning with a futuristic-sounding
recital of the properties of stars on the
first track and carrying space-aged
undertones throughout the rest of the
album. Inspired by the new millennium,
Enigma has created a record full of
unanswered questions and revelations,
tinged with a sense of impending doom.
Filled with demands and backed by
metallic instrumentation, the album is
very much a commentary on where the
future leads. Also like previous albums,
"Screen" is a continuous album, with
very little distinction between tracks.
While most of the songs do hold up as

I

with popular artists rather than quality
music, they still fail to assemble a
quality compilation. On one hand the
album features a fairly impressive

simply adding some beats. Essentially,
the finished product is two of New
York's most infamous thug rappers
rhyming overtop of Moby's spiritual
elegy.
The reason this song radiates irony
isn't simply the blend of thug rapping
and emotional ambiance but rather the
fact that Atlantic didn't include a sin-
gle song by Moby on this soundtrack.
Along with other electronica artists
such as Propellerheads and Prodigy,
several of Moby's songs were used at
some of the most key moments in the
film. Yet the artistic genius of Moby
gets snubbed in favor of marketable
rappers who contribute lackluster
songs that were probably outtakes
from their last albums.
If you enjoyed the music in the film,
don't expect the soundtrack of "Any
Given Sunday" to replicate the cine-
matic experience. Even with its illogi-
cal blend of rap and rock artists, this

Engima
The Screen Behind
the Mirror
Virgin Records
Reviewed by
Daily Arts Writer
David Reamer

individual pieces,
the album must be
listened to as a
whole to be fully
appreciated.
Although
Enigma has long
been a favorite of
New Age listen-
ers, they have not
received a great
deal of main-

This album relies on heavy bass, with
solid beats emerging from the back-
ground to set the tone of the music,
while depending very little on discern-
able vocals. "The Screen Behind The
Mirror" also features some hefty electric
guitar work, which is a bit unusual for
the generally mellow group, but the riffs
are tastefully inserted and serve to
heighten the metallic taste of the album.
A minority of the songs on the album,
including "The Silence Must Be Heard,"
"Gravity of Love," and "Modern
Crusaders" have recognizable lyrics, and
even then, the backing vocals compete
for dominance. The Gregorian chanting
of previous records has been for the
most part replaced by apocalyptic full
choir ensembles. While the epic choral
chants that permeate the record are very
pleasing to the ear, they are not radio-
friendly.
"The Screen Behind The Mirror" is a
success on many levels. Integrating
musical harmony with mechanical dis-m
cord, founder Michael Cretu has creat-
ed an atmosphere of doubt and, at the
same time, hope for the future. From an
aesthetic standpoint, "Screen" is as
much a pleasure to listen to as Enigma's
prior works, which have been graced,
with award after award by the music>
community. This album is sure to fol-
low in their footsteps, and elevate
Enigma's status even further in the eyes
of their peers and their listeners.

Breaking Records Star System

- Excellent
*** -Good
** -Fair
-'Poor
No stars - Don't Bother

- If you missed a week
of Breaking Records,
check out the Daily's
archives online at
michigandaily.corn

stream radio play during their decade-
long musical career. That is not likely
to change with the release of "The
Screen Behind The Mirror." Where
Enigma's previous studio albums have
been marked by tribal chanting and
relaxing orchestrations, "The Screen
Behind The Mirror" is much larger in
sound and ambition.

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