The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 3, 2003 - 7A
Video game composers push for union
By Jared Newman
Daily Arts Writer
Video games have seen many tech-
nological advances over the years,
and the audio that accompanies these
games is no exception. Still, in an
industry where graphics have
become just as important as the
gameplay itself, video game music
has been left behind, cursed with the
burden of keeping production costs
low and production times quick. In
fact, most producers will admit that
video game music is best when the
player does not notice it.
So if the producers aren't going to
push for better video game audio,
who will? Enter the Game Audio Net-
work Guild, or G.A.N.G., a constant-
ly-growing network of students,
professionals and game audio veter-
ans alike, headed by industry pioneer
Tommy Tallarico ("Earthworm Jim,"
"MDK"). Its mission is to unify game
audio designers from around the
world with hopes of improving both
the quality of the audio and the recog-
nition it deserves. Members receive
benefits such as internships, educa-
tional resources,and discounts on
audio software and hardware, but
community and communication are
the key factors. "Developers and
publishers don't secretly wish that
their audio will suck," Tallarico said
in an email to prospective members.
"The fact is that a lot of times it's just
a matter of educating the masses."
And there's no better way to edu-
cate the masses on the prominence of
game audio than through the Gram-
mys. Indeed, a priority for G.A.N.G.
is to get enough of its 291 active
members to join the National Acade-
my of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Seventy members are enough to start
a new category, in this case, Best
Video Game Soundtrack. "Tommy
has been working a lot ... getting a
way for the G.A.N.G. members to all
join NARAS," the G.A.N.G.'s admin-
istrative director, Jay Semerad, told
The Michigan Daily. "All you need
behind you to join is the equivalent of
an album's worth of published music."
Better recognition for the audio
means better recognition for the game
and bigger profits for producers. The
end result is a more prominent role
for audio in video games.
With the production of soundtracks
and presence at award ceremonies, it
might sound as if game audio is fol-
lowing the same path as film scores.
This is only natural though - there
was a time where film composers too
were mistreated by the Hollywood
studios, underpaid and often unable
to retain the rights to their music.
"What they did was they formed a
union, a guild if you will ... And they
did a concert showing all the best
film music from the past few years,
and it really went down in history,"
said Semerad. Sure enough, the
G.A.N.G. plans to put on its own
concert at the Hollywood Bowl, the
same historic venue where the first
film music concert took place.
It is with these achievements that
the G.A.N.G. hopes to erase the stig-
ma of video game audio being "not
real music." Gainers can now look
forward to a time where they not only
notice their games' soundtracks, but
also enjoy their every last note.
courtesy of ureamworxs
Who's the big winner? That's right, Mikey's the big winner!
Laughter not enough to keep
streaky 'Old School' alive
By Josh Neldus
Dail Ats Writer 4i~
Some people believe that college is the greatest time of
your life. Todd Phillips is obviously a strong advocate of
this theory, as his latest movie is his third about college
life. Following in the footsteps of "Road Trip," "Old
School" attempts to highlight the reasons behind this
common sentiment. However, while the combined
comedic talent of Will Ferrell ("Zoolander") and Vince
Vaughn ("Domestic Disturbance") may save Luke Wil-
son's ("The Royal Tenenbaums") life from hitting rock
bottom, it cannot do the same for the movie.
One major drawback is that some of the storylines,
especially the backstories behind the characters' moti-
vations, aren't payed enough attention, such as Mitch
Martin's (Wilson) deteriorating relationship. Within the
first few minutes of the movie he walks into the bed-
room in his home to find his girlfriend watching hard-
core porn. While this turns him on initially, his mood
quickly changes when a strange man and woman walk
out of his bathroom wearing only underwear and blind-
folds. After a quick conversation, Mitch is moving out
of the house, and so ends all development
Courtesy of DreamWorks
I DRIVE A DODGE STRATUSI
of his broken relationship.
Next to fall, Frank (Ferrell) is about to
get married despite the desperate pleas of *7
Beanie (Vaughn). While Frank is anxiousD
for married life, his marriage fails all too LD
soon and is dropped from the plot just as At Shov
quickly. Beanie is "happily" married with Qua
children, but even this relationship, the Drear
only one not to fall completely apart, does
not receive nearly enough screen time to be explained
properly. Expanding these important subplots Would
have both given the main triumvarite more definition
and also made the movie longer, as it clocks in at a very
short 91 minutes.
The combination of these three friends, however, is a
very effective one. Mitch's innocence, Frank's confused,
party-loving attitude and Beanie's experience unite to
form a unique trio. They must work together to save
Mitch's house, which is in danger of being repossessed
because it is on a college campus, but doesn't have any
affiliation to the university.
Deciding to start a fraternity, allowing Mitch to keep
the house, and rebuild his confidence and reputation,
they select 14 of the most random people they can find,
ranging from local college students to 93-year-old Blue,
a man trying to live life to its fullest even in its twilight.
Thus, a club is formed that everyone wants to be a part
of; everyone, that is, except the narrow-minded dean
(Jeremy Piven, "PCU").
It is rather unsettling to see Piven in such a reversal of
roles from his former tribute to the college party lifestyle,
and while this sometimes works to a movie's advantage,
this is not the case for "Old School."
Though he does a fine job of depicting the
sneaky, slimy dean, his characters should
remain on the other side of the conflict.
Piven is just one of a few talents wasted
HOOL during the movie. Snoop Dogg's cameo
case and concert at the grand opening of Mitch's
y 16 house was cut short by Ferrell's announce-
Works ment that he is going streaking through
campus (a sight not soon to be forgotten by
anyone who sees the movie), and this short appearance is
hardly worthy of a legend like Snoop. Craig Kilborn plays
the boyfriend of Mitch's newest love interest, Renee-Zell-
weger-look-alike Ellen Pompeo. While his dry humor
does create a few chuckles, the lack of screen time-is,.
again, not enough for the hilarious Kilborn.
Ferrell's antics evoke some side-splitting laughter
throughout the movie, but not enough to make it credible
as a good piece of comedy, especially compared to the
masterful works of old from which it rips more than its
fare share of ideas. If "Road Trip" or "Animal House"
type laughs are what you are in the mood for, or if you
feel like watching Stifler bump up his male make-out
count to three, then "Old School" is the movie for you.
But if you are looking for a movie that outshines other
comedy dribble, look elsewhere.
WE'RE A HAPPY FAMILY: A
TRIBUTE TO RAMON ES
By James Pfent
For the Daily
Tribute albums are usually mixed
bags, and We're a Happy Family is no
exception. But with an interesting
variety of artists and songs (and
Stephen King's hilarious liner notes),
this is undoubtedly one of the better
tributes out there.
Not surprisingly, bands like The
Offspring, Rancid and Green Day turn
in spot-on covers. Less obvious artists
appear as well: the Pretenders give an
excellent, low-key rendition of
"Something to Believe in," Tom Waits
puts his unique stamp on "Return of
Jackie and Judy" and Rob Zombie
does a very, um, scary rendition of
Meanwhile, Metallica, Eddie Ved-
der (with punk band Zeke) and
Garbage all deliver strong covers that
stick close to the originals while
THE HAMMER BROTHERS
HAMMER BRoS. RECORDS
By Joseph Litman
Daily Arts Writer
The bombastic 'sty le affected by
Mustafa and Omasik on Free
Palestine!, the debut LP from the Ham-
mer Bros., is appropriate given their
aggression and disenchantment. Arab
Muslims frustrated by the absence of
justice on "stolen land" in Israel, the
New York duo rage through 13 tracks,
exposing perceived impropriety and
advocating political upheaval. Once the
listener becomes accustomed to the vis-
sporting the artists' own flavor.
Not everything here works, howev-
er. Kiss' rendition of "Do You
Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio" suf-
fers from the lack of Phil Spector's
"wall of sound" that graced the origi-
nal. U2's "Beat on the Brat" proves
that Bono's ego is too big and his
balls are too small for punk. These
exceptions aside, We're a Happy Fam-
ily pays proper tribute to one of rock's
RATING: ** *
ceral anger behind seemingly every
verse on the record, he or she quickly
becomes aware that the record's beats
are lacking, most too bland despite
being active. This makes the album a
flawed enterprise because its impetus
- advancing a message - fails, the
lyrics obscured by off-kilter beats. The
Hammer Bros. also rhyme in a herky-
jerky style that suggests a lacking natu-
ral aptitude. What they do have, though,
is a message and a style not commonly
heard. Ignoring the aforementioned
flaws, listeners will find the beats to be
fairly unique, a departure from today's
dominant modes of hip-hop.
RATING: * '
LITTLE FIRES EP
By Nlamh Slevin
Daily Arts Writer
It is more than simply remarkable to
find a band on par with the experimen-
tal sound of Radiohead or The Strokes
and the phenomenal lyrics of great liter-
ary cynics. It is a rare and eerily hypnot-
ic gift even to come close. Spy Island's
Little Fires EP achieves this unusual
combination of style and substance in
their latest, mere nine-song album.
Little Fires manipulates a kind of pro-
gressive British pop with a certain
kitschy flair, a perfect ironic twist for
the sardonic messages within the songs.
While it provides the audience with a
happy-go-lucky sound throughout
almost every song, it produces the very
opposite effect with its rather mocking
ideas. The band adds extra complexity
to the music as well, as if the abrupt and
repeated changes in tempo are meant as
wake-up calls. They are not only show-
casing their musical capabilities but
forcing special emphasis on the song's
wording as well.
As if that was not entertaining
enough, the lyrics are some of the
most intelligent and witty creations
in recent music history, combining
politics, social consciousness and
familiar emotional resp6nses into as
little as one verse. Each track is writ-
ten in the form of poetry but stays far
from the stereotypes of the genre.
"Mini-Mall!" ad "Sober Sleeping".
are two of the most thought-provok-
ing tracks with lyrics like, "Let us
get credit/ millennium slaves gulag
states/ top-secret freight super-size/
it's the American way!"
Though their theories are not for
the weak of heart, Spy Island deliv-
ers an intriguing balance of relaxed
beats and edgy concepts in one
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