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March 12, 2002 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-12

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 12, 2002

I

._. .. ..

-0

BREAKING

RECORDS

REVIEWS OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY'S NEW RELEASES

NATHANIEL MERRIWEATHER
LOVAGE: MUSIC TO MAKE LOVE TO YOUR OLD
LADY BY
75 ARK RECORDS
By Steve Cotner
For the Daily
You think you don't know this guy, but you do. Here's a hint:
Watch a Gorillaz video and focus on the fat dude. That's Dan
"the Automator" Nakamura, the seldom-seen producer behind
the animated supergroup. But don't be fooled by appearances -
the cartoon caricature doesn't give any hint of the Automaton's
artistic subtlety, and neither does his sleazy bachelor persona
Nathaniel Merriweather, seen on the cover of his most recent
effort, Lovage: Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By.
In Lovage, the Automator accomplishes something admirable:
he has found the middle ground where humor and beautiful
music meet and shoot the breeze. It's an odd conversation that
develops from there. The music falls somewhere between a Paris
subway and a Brazilian brothel, all seen through hip hop colored
glasses; the lyrics drift from Elysian Fields singer Jennifer
Charles's sexpot crooning to the unpredictable counterpoint of
Faith No More's Mike Patton.
The subject of the whole album is, of course, lovage. But as
the name alone suggests, this is not your typical love album.
Prince Paul spells out the present state of musical seduction in
the intro: "Barry White used to work ... shoot, even ABBA used
to work, the way I was doing my thing ... but man you put this
on, the hoes just go wild." It's a self-proclaimed sonic Spanish
fly, and that's where the irony comes in. Put this on with a date
and she'll bolt.
Imagine you're leaning in close to ol' girl when an over-the-
top duo groans "you want the bitter, I am the sweet. / You want
the griddle, I am the meat" It kills the mood in a way that's hard
to describe. And it's a phenomenon that reoccurs every
time orgiastic moaning fills the album's symphonic flour-
ishes. If you're trying to seduce the opposite sex when this
happens, and the girl's not a super freak, it's a moment rife
with embarrassment.

In the right context, though, the album is perfect. The songs
have a meditative quality that makes them an apt soundtrack for
dorm-room life. Despite lyrics that might rub a timid listener the
wrong way, the sound is completely inoffensive - so much so
that the album verges on background music. That is, after all,
what a love album is about. But the Automator was up for more
than making white noise on this album.
When he's at his best, the songs pull subtle, relaxing elements
- strings, horns and piano - into raw expressions of feeling. If
this is a concept album, it is the inverse of well-known works
like Sergeant Pepper's or The Wall; it doesn't strive put on a
spectacular show or cover a breadth of human experience. It
dwells in nothing and draws as much from a languorous lack of
feeling as it does from world-weary experience. But, like Shake-
speare interrupting the drama with moments of irreverence, the
album juxtaposes lovesick verses with inane skits - Afrika
Bambaataa explaining how to avoid funky feet on "Herbs, Good
Hygiene & Socks," for instance. Rather than celebrating pas-
sion, this love album trivializes it. Mingling head-nod-worthy
beats with a classic foreign film sound, the Automator weaves
his story together in a grand parody of love and sex - and does
it well.
RATING: * * * '

a
6

DAN THE AUTOMATER
WANNA BUY A MONEY? A
MIXTAPE SESSION
SEQUENCE RECORDS
By Scott Serilla
For the Daily
Does Dan "the Automator" Naka-
mura ever sleep?
Probably not. He's too busy being
one of the most consistently inven-
tive and acclaimed producers work-
ing today and an in demand remixer
for assorted acts like the Beastie
Boys, Herbie Handcock, Stereolab
and Depeche Mode. The man's
resume is more impressive than
most record collections, reading like
a hot list of forward-thinking style.
Classically trained as a violinist,
the Automator built a reputation by
masterminding the groundbreaking
"Dr. Octagon" records for rapper
Kool Keith and moonlighting with
fellow hip-hop innovator Prince Paul
as the Co-Deans of the brilliant
Handsome Boy Modeling School.
Last year he finally hit some long
overdue pay dirt by producing the
Gorillaz's self-titled debut for
Damon Albarn and company. With
the substantial success of that album
on both sides of the Atlantic, you.
wouldn't blame Dan if he'd laid back
and enjoy the fruits of his labors. Fat
bloody chance for a guy who's made
a career of never standing still.
Wanna Buy a Monkey? - A Mix-
tape Session is the latest testimony
to the Automator's workaholic ten-
dencies. Reflecting Nakamura's
trademark bizarre sense of humor,
the name of the album combines
Gorillaz's primate theme with Hand-
some Boy's oddball celebration of
comedian Chris Elliott (Handsome
Boy borrowed its name and a string
of samples from an episode of
Elliott's extremely short-lived Fox

sitcom, Get a Life. "Wanna buy a
monkey?" was an infamous line
uttered by David Letterman during a
rare cinematic cameo in Elliott's
hilarious debacle, Cabin Boy.)
Building on that, this record
shares the same eclectic "anything
goes" feel of Gorillaz and Hand-
some Boy. A seamless mix of 16
handpicked tracks from the
Automator's numerous side-proj-
ects and favorite artists, Monkey
effortlessly blends alternative hip-
hop, electronica and atmospheric
indie rock. Logically these artist
shouldn't be on the same record,
but in the Automator's fractured
genius, rappers Brand Nubian
belong with laidback French neo-
loungers Air, pre-Bad Boy Black
Rob with the experimental rock of
Tortoise, RZA of Wu-Tang's Bobby
Digital persona with the ambient
techno of Britain's Zero 7.
But its not just placing these
diverse artists next to one another
that takes Nakamura's genre-bend-
ing to a whole new level, it's the
ceaseless flowing of every track
into the next, creating a true long-
play mix that you could actually
imagine the Automator creating at
his own incredibly hip party. The
effect is coherence and continuity
that is essential to pulling off Mon-

key, proving that good music tran-
scends all the petty sub-classifica-
tions and labels that we force on it
these days.
While lacking the blast of big
beat acts like Chemical Brothers
and Paul Oakenfold or the scratch-
ing finesse of underground DJs
like Mixmaster Mike and Kid
Koala (who helps out with a couple
tracks here), the Automator man-
ages to hold his own as a DJ
through his careful selection of
choice material and his usual flair
for reworking beats.
Unsurprisingly, veterans of other
Automator side-projects, De La
Soul and Del Tha Funkee
Homosapien, both tragically under-
rated, are standouts here, as is
Handsome Boy offshoot Lovage's
funky "Stroker Ace." Up-and-com-
ers Dilated Peoples and X-ecution-
ers, both currently enjoying some
breakthrough success, also help
round out the party - proving that
Nakamura's truly got an ear for
tomorrow's trends.
The problem, if there is one, is
that there isn't any brand new
material and as with all compila-
tions there's the possibility of over-
lap in your collection. But for those
new to the Automator and his partic-
ular brand non-pretentious ultra-hip
tunes - make Monkey your personal
primer in ahead-of-the-curve trendi-
ness.
What's next for the tireless super-
producer? The Automator is alleged-
ly back in the studio working on
Handsome Boy's second record, col-
laborating on a project called "The
Good, the Bad and the Ugly" with
Prince Paul and Dust Brother Mike
Simpson and producing tracks for
fellow genre-bender Beck's follow-
up to Midnight Vultures. No rest for
the wicked.
RATING:***k 9

YOUR POP MUSIC
SENSIBILITIES ARm
SHARPER THAN
JOiN DAILY ART::
BREAK THE CYCLL

SVEN VATH
IN THE MIX: SOUND OF THE SECOND SEASON
COCOON RECORDS
By Jeremy Kressmann
Daily Arts Writer
Would anyone believe me if I said Sven Vith dee-
jayed in front of an audience of two million fans?
Rivaling any show here in the U.S., Vsth deejays each
summer at Berlin's Love Parade for millions of Euro-
pean techno fans. Vith also has an annual summer res-
idency at an event called "Cocoon Club" at superclub
Amnesia in Ibiza where he showcases the latest in hard
techno artists, himself included. Sound of the 2nd Sea-
son is a mix by Vith that showcases some of the best
tracks from this past summer's substance-filled revelry
on the Mediterranean's biggest party island.
Sven has divided his work into two discs that both
aptly describe the Ibizan party cycle. The "Noche" disc
throws down some hit-me-hard-with-your-glowstick
style techno typical of the nightly "Cocoon Club"
event. This disc especially smacks of its Detroit her-
itage. Many of the tracks would be right at home any
weekend at Motor Lounge. The 13 tracks describe a
sound that sits astride both the characteristic Detroit
sounds of artists like Richie Hawtin, as well as more
heavily produced European fare. Sven Vdth is a master
at maintaining the hard sound typical of European
techno, while creating a distinctly highbrow aura about
his work. "Betty Ford" is abrasive and harsh - sort of
like the kind of substances that would place one in the
clinic of the same name. Other samplings like "Escape
from Nowhere" are the equivalent of a Rothko painting:
Simply constructed yet sophisticated at the same time.
The second "Dia" disc is designed with the after
hours listener in mind - something a little more mel-

BREAKING RECORDS STAR SYSTEM
* * * * * CLASSIC
* * *GREAT V If you missed a week of
BREAKING RECORDS
* *FAIR check the archives at
www.michigandaily.com
* * SUB-PAR
* WORTHLESS

0

SAEN VATH IN THE FMX
0 , ' D. ,o

low to soothe your nerves and help you come down
from the previous night's insanity. Vath's work reaches
its apex on this disc. The CD is a subtle tour de force
of breezy Ibizan techno-ambience. "Flat" echoes with
restrained warmth. It feels like a dreamy, fuzzy,
mechanical memory - the soundtrack to artificial
intelligence. "Lydia to the Edge of Panic" hums with
airy sprinklings of distorted static electricity - snap-
ping, crackling, and popping across your conscious-
ness. What Vith's album does is blend the two
essences of the Ibizan experience - the excess and
energy of Ibizan nightlife with the subtle melodies of
the morning after.
RATING:** * * ,

NATIONAL LAMPOON IS BACK!
ANOTHER
LEGENDARY
Golden Gate Xpress, San Froniso State University
"YO5;
STICKY '""
miNUTE FUNNIEST
OF ITA" THING SINCE
-Cal State Hayward oneerSCED BREAD"
UMBC Retriever
- "wson University Towerlight "RYAN c IS F nA C"
Boston College Heights
-I EER A MN WjtME"
-KLSU-FM, Looisiann State University
V , s

K,

UNIVERSITY
FOUNDED BYI

OF PENNSYLVANIA
BEN FRANKLIN - 1740

PENN

TOP FIVE
REASONS TO
ATTEND THE
SUPER SIX
e CHAMPIONSHIP:
5. A good reason to yell "ROAD TRIP!" and get off campus
for the night.
4. See Mike Cammalleri light up the scoreboard.
3. Chance to drink green beer at "The Joe" (only if you're
21, of course)!I
2. You can call MSU goalie Ryan Miller a "SIEVE!"
1. Cheer on your Wolverines to the 2002 CCHA
Championship playoff title.

L

v

MICHIGAN

]

a
1

S U M M E R S I D E U P

CCHA CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND
FRI., MARCH 15 " QUARTERFINALS
SEED #3 VS. SEED #6 " 4:00 PM
SEED #4 VS. SEED #5 " 7:30 PM

Summer SessionI
May 20-June 28

Summer Session II
July 1--August 9

12 Week Evening Session
May 20-August 9

" Comarehensive Range of Courses St AC 6*SMFNL

SAT., MARCH 16 *SEMIFINALS*

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