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January 27, 2004 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-01-27

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Tuesday
January 27, 2004
arts.michigandaily.com
artseditor@michigandaily.com

ARTS

5

MELISSA
RUNSTROM

Reading is fun'-damental

FRENCH DUO RETURNS TO FORM O

By Alex Wolsky
Daily Arts Writer
Music REVI EW
With the release of their monumental record Auto-
bahn in 1974, Kraftwerk put Berlin on the map as
the progenitor of electronic music. The self-pro-
claimed "robot-pop" group blended hip-hop and
techno to form their own blitzkrieg of kraut-rock
that would come to be modeled globally for decades.
The Berliners drafted a sonic .........__
blueprint of how electronic Air
minimalism would progress
and influenced generations of Talkie Walkie
children later - including Astralwerks
French duo Air.
The indie-electronic duo of Nicolas Godin and
Jean-Benoit Dunckel first made waves in 1998 with
their debut of sonic landscapes, Moon Safari. Since
then, however, they've worked primarily on film
scores and have failed to compose anything as dense
and impressive as they're obviously capable of.
The Nigel Godrich (Radiohead) produced Talkie
Walkie marks a transitional period for the duo back
into the formulaic songwriting that sculpted their
epic debut. Their latest LP is a detached, tonal record
that makes an attempt at healing the scars left by
their disastrous sophomore effort, 10,000 Hz.
In the summer of 2003, Air previewed Talkie
Walkie by including the tinny, droning "Alone in
Kyoto," on the soundtrack to the award-winning

Courtesy of
Astraiwerks
France,
c'mon girl,
don't be an
invader
hater.
N LATEST LP
open textures of keyboards and pre-programmed
drum loops, much like their earlier works. The
openness of "Run" and the spinning, matter-of-
course feeling portrayed by "Universal Traveler"
lose focus and eventually die out before making
an impact.
Defiantly standing out from the rest, however, is
the track, "Alpha Beta Gaga," a confused, topsy-
turvy hybrid of Air's previous talents with tense,
anxiety-ridden lining. "Gaga" successfully mixes the
production talents of Godrich with Air's ability to
paint a chameleonic sonic backdrop and as a result,
they give birth to something that's constantly being
reinterpreted.
However, even the strongest track on the record is
a thin, one-dimensional cut that lacks the density
and dexterity of their best compositions. The synthe-
sized layers weave such a gossamer fabric that one
begs to ask the question: Did Air's work on film
scores have an adverse effect on their album work?
Talkie Walkie makes the answer obvious. Air's
reliance on the visual has caused their work to
become stale and impotent. Most of their new
material ambulates slowly and builds up to noth-
ing. Their work on both Coppola's first film, "The
Virgin Suicides" and "Lost in Translation" is
reflected heavily on the LP and destroys any oppor-
tunity for the tracks to stand on their own. But if
Talkie Walkie tells us anything, it shouts defiantly
from a rooftop villa, "the spark and ingenuity of
Moon Safari has left!" And, sadly, it may never be
achieved again.

''Y ou mean to tell me that
there are still people on
campus with the time to
read for fun?" my friend questioned,
after he saw me reading a book that
wasn't assigned for class.
Unfortunately with deadlines,
assignments, projects, working and the
ever-pressing "need" to party with our
friends consuming most of our time,
many students don't even consider
free reading an option anymore. Read-
ing for fun is something that takes a
little bit of effort and is all too often
shoved aside for the much easier,
albeit less rewarding, TV show or
videogame.
This isn't to say that one shouldn't
watch a show or play a game, as both
activities can be fun and entertaining,
I'm simply saying that it can be a
much more rewarding activity if you
choose what you read based on what
you like. There is something in read-
ing about a character, as opposed to
watching one, that makes things more
personal. An author has the ability to
do a good deal more than the average
television network producer or direc-
tor can. As corny as it sounds, they
stimulate your imagination, and that is
one of the reasons they are more suc-
cessful. It is also true that good books
almost always have better plots than
your average show or game. There is a
much larger selection of material in
print than on television or in the gam-
ing industry.
The key to transforming reading
from a chore into a relaxing and stim-
ulating activity is to choose books
based on your interests. Simply
because a story is on a bestseller list or
considered a classic doesn't necessari-
ly make it right for you. Just as there is
a difference between PBS and FOX,
book genres cater to diverse tastes.
Political exposes on the Bush adminis-
tration, graphic romance novels and
how-to books on unlocking your inner
chi represent varied literary inclina-
tions that are widely read. Unless you

want it to be, reading doesn't have to
be about learning something. A story
should transport you to a place that
makes you recall things you've been
through and feel what you've never
experienced.
There are a lot of students who want
to free read but simply cannot find the
time in their packed schedule to make
it work. It takes some planning, but
reading a book, doing schoolwork and
having a social life can co-exist.
The first rule is to bring the book to
most of the places you go. Throwing it
in your bag on the way out is an easy
way to integrate this. Then, whenever
you are a little early to class, riding the
bus to North Campus or simply in a
boring lecture, you'll have an interest-
ing way to pass the time. You can also
read before you go to sleep. While you
may not be cognizant enough to make
it through notes that will be on the
final, you can at least enjoy a book.
Another option is to buy books on
CD and listen to them anywhere you
feel comfortable donning the head-
phones. Unfortunately, they only have
very popular books in this format, and
purchasing the audio can get expen-
sive. Libraries, however, are offering a
growing selection of books on disc,
making them more accessible to
everyone.
Still not convinced it is possible to
read and be a student at the same time?
Then wait to take advantage of the
summer to grab a cold drink and a
good book. If nothing else, use your
free time during the summer and over
breaks to get into a rewarding habit.
Reading relaxes and can help relieve
the tension from a stressful day. With a
good book, you can escape whenever
you want, to go to class or being
strapped for cash.
- Melissa thinks that books in gen-
eral deserve five stars and would love
to discuss the ending to "Beyond the
Highland Mist." She can be contacted
at goghrun@umich.edu.

Courtesy of Astraiwerks
That mime isn't picking up, Jean.
film, "Lost in Translation." The escapist, free-flow-
ing track acted as the perfect counterpart to Sofia
Coppola's heart-wrenching story of longing and
hope. The perfect score, it piqued characters' unex-
pressed emotions and drew upon an implicit senti-
ment in Coppola's screenplay.
Talkie Walkie is built around the same spacious,

m

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