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February 15, 2000 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-02-15

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9 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, February 15, 2000

SNAPCASE 'DESIGNS' WELL-MIXED RECORD

Detroit's Rolando hits
masterpiece with 'Mix'

Snapcase is more than a hard-
core band. They are part of a
movement and music is the means
of conveying their message of
individuality and self-realization.
The liner notes read, "The design
is yours, created solely by you.
Fall into yourself to shield your
imagination from popular influ-
ence; only you fully understand
it."
And with that, the raw power
and ferocity of "Designs for
Automotion" begins and does not
let up until the final notes, a mere
half hour later.
Snapcase formed in 1992 and
through consistent touring earned
a loyal fan base which allowed
their 1997 Victory Records album,
"Progression Through
Unlearning" to sell more than
80,000 copies without the help of
a major label, radio play, or main-
stream promo-
tion The band
Grade: B. joined the
Warped Tour in
Snapcase 1997 and 1998
Designs for as well as play-
Automotion ing with the
Victory Records Deftones on
Reviewed by their 1998 tour.
Daily Arts Writer With this expo-
Andy Klein sure to a
broader audi-
ence and the success of their pre-
vious release, the anticipation of
fans surrounding the release of
"Designs" has been growing
steadily since the release was
announced and has earned the
album a spot as one of the
Alternative Press' top 25 most
anticipated releases of 2000.

"company advancement." It ends
with the tormented yell of "This is
not my life; it's just my job" as the
music reaches a fevered speed,
with drummer Tim Redmond mov-
ing twice as fast.
The problem that many like-
minded bands run into when writ-
ing preachy and moralistic lyrics is
the tendency to come off sounding
like a self-help book, which does
not resonate well with the accom-
panying heavy music.
On "Designs," Snapcase avoids
this trap by not claiming any
knowledge to specific answers.
Rather, they provide problems and
questions that force their audience
to think - an approach consistent
with their insistence on the indi-
vidual.
While the music flows together
consistently from track to track
with Snapcase's characteristic
energy and emotion, there are few
moments on the album that are
highly distinguishable from others
in melody.
This problem may be due to the
frequently used chuga chuga rhythm
that is great for emotional purposes
and works wonders in the live set-
ting, however becomes somewhat
repetitive over the course of an entire
album. Yet, this is not to detract from
the album's success as there are
songs such as "Ambition Now" and
"Energy Dome" that combine both
musical differentiation and lyrical
prowess. With this said, on "Designs
for Automotion," Snapcase have
upped the ante on lyrical intelli-
gence, while at the same time trans-
lating the energy of a hardcore show
onto a studio album.

Staying true to their underground
aesthetic, Detroit's Underground
Resistance camp has followed up the
massive global success of Rolando's
record, "Jaguar," with a self-released,
selectively distributed full-length mix
album. Also known as The Aztec
Mystic, Rolando picks 23 different UR-
related records from his crate for the
album, mixing recognized classics such
as The Martian's "Firekeeper" with pre-
viously unreleased UR tracks such as
his own "Z Track." Dropping a new
track every few minutes, Rolando gives
listeners a flawless taste of UR's style
of Detroit techno - at times unearthly
and at other times raw. Along with UR's
previously
released and
equally hard-to-
Grade: A- find compilation,
DJ Rolando "Interstellar
Te AFugitives," this is
The Aztec Mystic Mix a perfect introduc-
Underground Resistance tion to the fantas-
Reviewed by tiC outer space
Daily Arts Writer motifs of Detroit's
Jason Birchmeier purest form of
techno.
The album opens beautifully with
Rolando's masterpiece, "Jaguar," which
undoubtedly ranks with Rhvthim is
Rhvthim's "Strings of Life" and Model
500's "Ocean to Ocean" as a timeless
Detroit techno classic. Unfortunately,
he only plays the first five minutes of
the track before mixing in another
track, making you long for more of the
serene synthesizer melodies and spiral-
ing basslines that make the track so

The album opens with a poorly
recorded drumbeat that leads
smoothly into the now well-
recorded and surprisingly melodi-
ous "Target."
The melody soon breaks down
in the chorus as strong but coher-
ent, not growling, vocals push
above the drums and bass. Then
the chorus crashes in with pound-
ing guitar finding precise unity
with the rhythm section, all sup-
porting singer Daryl Taberski
screams of, "The target; there's no
escape.
The song serves as the abstract
starting line for the more precise

lyrics of the album's following
tracks about the preset, almost
mechanical, manner in which
humans often function. All this
perpetuates the band's message of
unlearning society's conventions
and finding solace and happiness
in the individuality that makes us
human.
"Bleeding Orange" asks the
question that every future employ-
ee hopes he will not have to ask,
"Why do I work here?" The song is
sung from the perspective of a
low-level employee skeptical of all
that his job offers, "a ten cent
raise," "the star employee" and

magical. From there, Rolando focuses
primarily on the raw percussive force of
various UR tracks, occasionally light-
ening up the mix with the 'cosmic
strings of The Martian every few tracks.
When Rolando makes brave transi-
tions from the electronic sci-fi sym-
phonics of The Martian's "Ultraviolet
Images" to the raw sweaty funkJ.of
UR's "Soulpower," the tempo changes
drastically. This occurs most dramati-
cally when Rolando drops UR's
"Metamorphasis" - a strange track
filled with robotic space probe
sounds from beyond our planet -- for
over three minutes before mixing into
the fiery climatic finale of Mad
Mike's "Illuminator" and The
Suburban Knight's "Midnight
Sunshine." Once the aural spell of the
Aztec Mystic has come to a close,
one feels as though he or she has been
on a secret journey through the cos-
mic fantasies of Detroit's most tmyth-
ical clan of hidden techno aposles.

Bacon Brothers taste so bland

Larrieux' s solo debut
displays 'Possibilities'

n~
#.

Another rousing game of 'Six Degrees of Kevin
Bacon' has begun, but this time with a new twist as the
relationships to Kevin are no longer simply acting ties,
they can now be musical connections. "Okay," you say,
"trace Kevin and Tom Waits." Well, that one is simple
because on the Bacon Brothers'
new album, "Getting There," pair
covers Waits' "New Jersey Girl.-
Grade: C Will the fun ever stop? Perhaps a
The Bacon question better suited to Kevin
and Michael Bacon's second
release on Bluxo Records is
Getting There "Will the fun ever start?" In truth,
Bluxo Records while the Bacons' album is not
Reviewed by terribly bad, it doesn't do any-
Andrew Ladd thing that well either.
For the Daily Drawing from various influ-
ences, "Getting There" never
commits to a specific genre, often jumping from the
Caribbean rhythm of Jimmy Buffett to sounds directly
from the repertoire of Richard Marx. A telling charac-
teristic ofthe album is its inability to produce a song that
defines the album. Even the title track fails to catch the
listener's ear for more than a minute as Kevin's best
attempt at acting like James Taylor falls far short of

believable.
Lyrically, "Getting There" reassures all of the aspiring
songwriters out there that there is a chance to make it in
the business, even if you aren't that good. There is no
doubt that Kevin's acting days helped him sign his
recording contract, because it certainly wasn't on the
merit of lyrics like, "And I said I don't read reviews/
Because thev just give me the blues/ When they're bad
they're really rough/ When they're good they're not good
enough." I am almost sure that there are songwriters in
the world who can write better lyrics than those and are,
sadly, making virtually no headway in the business.
The most farfetched track on the album is the rock 'n'
roll tune "Not Born to Beauty," which does its best to
enliven a chorus whose strongest line is "Not born to
beautv/ Not born to beauty/ Born to rock!"
The simple truth is that the Bacon Brothers have
extended their musical dream past its realistic breaking
point by attempting to play a genre of music that does-
n't fit them. Listening to this song inspires images of my
own dad breaking out his old axe and starting up a band
in a weak attempt to relive his glory days. The whole
scenario is sadly comical.
The CD is not without some highlights however. The
opening guitar riff to "Don't Lose Me Boy" is reminis-
>llection begs a

cent enough of Led Zeppelin's classic "Over the Hills
and Far Away" opening to sound good, without it
appearing like the Bacons had explicitly tried to repli-
cate it. Surprisingly, it works well and sets a perfect
mood for the rest of the song, which is dedicated to
Michael Bacon's son (the moral: Don't forget about your
parents when you leave home).
The other high point is "City of Fear," a song about
Hollywood that goes to prove Kevin should stick to the
stuff he knows -like acting - and keep his guitar at
home where it belongs.
ake out 'Session'

As a part of the duo Groove Theory,
Amel Larrieux (Lah-roo) made a strong
impression in 1995 on the group's first
and only large scale hit, "Tell Me." Her
voice was smooth and had a range that
could only be matched by Mariah Carey
at the time. It's five vears later now and
though she's without her partner Bryce
Wilson, Larrieux still has her strong
voice coupled with well-written lyrics on
her solo debut "Infinite Possibilities.'
The lead single from the album is
entitled "Get Up" and serves as a call to
action for those
people who find
Grade: B+ themselves in the
Amel Larrieux same rut day after
day (wake up, go
Infnit to work and be
Possibilities under appreciated,
Epic/550 Music go to bed, repeat
Reviewed by the cycle tomor-
Daily Arts Writer row). Larrieux
W. Jacari Melton plainly asks, "I
see you're
down/when you gon get up." It's a sim-
ple question that's difficult to answer, yet
she pushes it on her audience as a chal-
lenge to break out of monotonous rou-
tines, which seem to dominate every-
one's life at one time or another.
"INI" provides more social commen-
tary, primarily dealing with definitions
of beauty and religious philosophies.
Larrieux asserts the position that she was
not meant to subscribe to the perceived
beauty norm ("...hair so blonde and
eyes so very blue"), rather she says,
"God made me iust fine. that's why I Sot
to be." She takes much the same tone
when talking about prescribing certain
religious beliefs. Larrieux refuses to be
judged by those who she feels don't
understand her relationship with God.
Given the strong statements made in

Elegant ballk
Since Mark Turner's last album
-In This World," the tenor saxophon-
ist has nabbed some prestigious
notoriety and
earned himself a
Grade: B+ place among the
group of wide-
Mark Turner eyed talent that
has lately been
Ballad Session eushinQ from
Warner Bros. the wellspring of
Reviewed by Boston music
Daily Music Editor schools (Turner
John Uhl went to Berklee
himself).
Turner's latest, "Ballad Session,"
is a collection of standards and not-
so standards that echoes the exquis-

ad

"Get Up" and "INI," Larrieux shows a
need to have songs with less of an edge.
One track in particular is "Make Me
Whole." The song is a deep and very
personal tribute to her husband, who co-
wrote, produced and played instruimnts
on the album in support of his-wife.
Judging strictly from what can be detect-
ed from her voice and lyrics, she holds a
deep-felt connection with him., that
shows throughout the album.
Amel Larieux makes a point o.stand
out from the rest of the musicalcowd,
more specifically those in the R&B
genre, and she does this quite well. Few
singers in recent years have been able to
(or have chosen to) record an album that
genuinely expresses their totalbeing.
Given the amount of work in theareas of
writing, instrumentation and production
that Larrieux put in, she was defiitely
attempting to achieve this goal. It remains
to be seen how popular this will be-with
the general public, however. There aren't
any "party" tracks or manyupbeattenpo
beats. The lyrics are definitely theenpha-
sis on each of the 10 cuts. thereforimanv
listeners may be turned off. However,
those who do choose to explore
Larrieux's "Infinite Possibilities"" will
experience an artist attempting tobraden
people's perspectives not only on "black
music" but life and themselves.

ite work of John Coltrane's 1962
recording "Ballads" in more than
just its name. They both hold the
same desire, to interpret other's
material (only some of which would
usually be categorized as ballads)
with both traditional and more
experimental methods and include
basically the same arrangement of
"All or Nothing at All." Turner's tone
and knack for delicately winding
himself into his instrument's upper
register are stylistically similar to
Joshua Redman (who, for better or
worse, is essentially this genera-
tion's Coltrane duplicate).
Yet there are a few moments
where "Ballad Session" diverges

texturally, which can all be attrib-
uted to the lovely assistance of gui-
tarist Kurt Rosenwinkel. Turner's
band consists of pianist Kevin lays
and the highly touted bass and drum
team of Larry Grenadier and Brian
Blade. But Rosenwinkel's work, per-
fectly placed accompaniment
splashes and rich chordal solos, is
the reason to listen to this album.
Most significant are his tonal contri-
butions to the arrangements, espe-
cially on spacious, less orthodox
compositions like Bobby
Hutcherson's "Visions" and Wayne
Shorter's "Nefertiti." "Nerfertiti," in
fact, also features a ponderous solo
that ironically reminisces Kenny

Burrell's playing on Coltrane's
album with that guitarist and further
emphasizes Turner's association
with Trane.

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