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April 20, 2004 - Image 20

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' 8B - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 20, 2004

ART S

iPod brings digital
music to the masses

By Scott Serilla
Daily Arts Editor

By Kiran Diwela
Daily Arts Writer
When you buy any expensive gadget,
rarely do you think the packaging is
well designed. Usually you just want to
tear it off in search of the prize inside.
Not so with the iPod, Apple's digital
music player. Even the packaging is
elegant; it comes in a tiny cube shaped
box with two compartments, one with
the iPod itself and the other with soft-
ware, earbuds, a power adapter and
manuals.
Of course, this isn't where its ele-
gance ends. There are five self-explana-
tory buttons on the front of the iPod and
a scroll-wheel in the middle that moves
you through your music. Other than
that, there's nothing else to clutter up its
design, allowing you to move incredibly
quickly through your songs.
This is a necessity because the iPod
comes equipped with a voluminous 5-
gigabyte hard drive. Apple's marketing
catch phrase of "1,000 songs in your
pocket" is actually an understatement
(for once). The iPod could probably
hold about 1,200.
It gets easier. After connecting the
iPod to your Mac, iTunes (Apple's digi-
tal music jukebox) automatically opens
and syncs all of the songs on your com-
puter to the MP3 player. You can have
your entire music collection, from Air
to Yo La Tengo, on you wherever you
go in a package the size of a pack of
cigarettes. And if you get a Radio
Shack adapter you can play the iPod
music in your car or on a home stereo.
Also, since the battery life is 10
hours, you don't have to constantly
worry about recharging. You could lis-
ten for an entire workday and still have
time for a jog. Another cool feature is
that when you sync it with your com-
puter, it recharges. If you don't have a
computer close by, it comes with a
handy adapter. It takes about an hour
for 80 percent of the battery to charge
and three hours for a full recharge.
I could go on about how easy it is to
use the iPod, but the real test of whether
or not a music device is worth buying is
its sound quality. There wasn't any
sound degradation when I transferred
music over and the earbuds that come

a ,
Courtesy of Apple Computers'
This costs more than your house.
with it are of high quality (but may be a
bit uncomfortable for those of you with
small ears). The only problem I had was
a short silence between each song.
If you're the active type, you'll appre-
ciate the skip free quality of your music.
Apple has built 20 minutes of skip pro-
tection into the iPod. That's not a typo.
Even if you throw it around (which I do
not recommend) it won't skip a beat.
Now to one of the hallmark features
about anything by Apple: its design. I
hate using the word "sexy" to describe
consumer electronics so I'll say that this
is one of the most mouth-watering digi-
tal devices on the market. The front
sports a bright, crisp screen with an
incredibly bright backlight and is the
distinct white color Apple uses on all its
products. Its back is a mirror-like stain-
less steel with an etched Apple logo and
"iPod" under it.
Right now the iPod is Mac only. A
company called Mediafour is working
on software to make it Windows com-
patible later this year. It won't be as
good an experience though, consider-
ing there's nothing comparable to
iTunes on Windows. I don't view the
lack of Windows compatibility as a
disadvantage though; it's even more of
an incentive to lose your PC and finally
upgrade to a Mac.
-Jan. 24, 2002

Lounging in the back of his tour
bus after a big meal in Detroit's
Greektown, Andrew WK, the party-
ing-hard bard of beer commercials, is
displaying his usual off-stage Zen
focus and relentless enthusiasm. In
two hours, Mr. Wilkes-Krier will take
the stage at St. Andrew's Hall and
proceed to whip the sold-out crowd
into a sweat-soaked, frenzied glee like
a longhaired, heavy metal version of
children's singer Fred Penner.
But now W.K. is wound up himself
about the release of his second album,
the earnest pop-metal party manifesto
The Wolf
The Ann Arbor-raised rocker
claims to have no overriding motiva-
tion behind naming his new album
after the predatory canine. Still the
solitary animal seems a pretty apt
metaphor for his solo recording
process. W.K. chose to record Prince-
style, playing every single instrument
on his new LP, taking six full months
and sometimes 36 straight hours of
recording to amass the record's heavi-
ly layered sound all by his lonesome
(well, engineer Ryan Boesch stuck
around for most of it).
"None of it is jammed; everything
has got to be really specific, really
exact," he says with the same pro-
fessed earnestness as he says pretty
much everything.
He relishes getting technical about
his songwriting, poring over tiny
details of building his songs from
simple chords pounded out at the
piano to stadium aspiring, 100-track
epics. He becomes overcome, gestur-
ing wildly with a water bottle, hum- To party or not
ming with his eyes closed, maniacally
miming the particular chords as they
stream from the symphony living in
his head.
"There's only so many tracks you
can mix at once, so a lot of the stuff ANN
you'd have to piece together in
advance," he says before explaining
how the vocals of new song "Totally Stupid" required
300 different takes to build the swelling choral effects
on the coda.
"I'm a big believer in computers. For this music
they're essential. I don't think they take away. I'm not
one of those people who think digital technology is
evil or that it's ruining music." He points to similar
swipes made at the electric guitar when it was first
introduced as proof cut-and-paste digital technology

"Drums took over a month and a
half, the cymbals alone were two
weeks. I don't take pride that I recorded
everything myself, it almost makes me
kinda embarrassed," he explains. "I
don't have a principle like 'I have to
play everything myself' That's not the
point; the point is to make everything
good."
Despite the intricate and time-con-
suming process of layering track upon
track, A.W.K. maintains his music is
"pretty straightforward at its root; it
comes from a very basic place. I don't
want it to be a show-offy thing."
Even on first listen, it is instantly
clear that The Wolf is primarily driven
by keyboards. Which only makes sense
considering the little party animal was
taking piano lessons at the tender of age
of five. He figured out how to pound
out drum beats from tapping out key-
board rhythm; he instinctively associ-
ates the neck of a guitar with the
sequence of keys. The piano is the basic
element of all his musical knowledge,
so naturally his trusty Roland SC880
keyboard builds, as he says, "the stock
skeleton on which everything else sits."
Although W.K.'s frenzied keyboard
work is mixed much higher on The
Wolf, especially compared to the
crunching guitar-based I Get Wet, the
singer is quick to point out that the new
album contains much more complex
and varied leads, none of which came
easily.
Having not played any bass or guitar
in a long time, WK. found his fingers
"torn to shreds" from hours of trying to
master the perfect riffs he imagined.
They bleed for days after.
Seems strange that a guy who
records almost entirely alone would
claim that his singularly named new
album is really about celebrating the
sense of community he's been trying to
foster within his audience. But he
always refers to it as "this music," never
as "his" or "mine" because he really
doesn't believe he owns it or has even
created it, only recognizes what he does
as part of a communal vision bigger

JONATHON TRIEST/Daily

t to party.

-RTY ANIMA
q ARBOR NATIVE GOES NATIO]N
will survive its naysayers.
W.K. swears that half a year was barely enough
time to meticulously build the album in his computer
on ProTools, assembly lining instruments for every
song, one at a time.
"I really wanted to make a conveyer belt system. 1
didn't want to work for two weeks," says W.K, "only
get one song done and go 'Oh, there's 12 more to go

than himself.
With his trademark big picture modesty, W.K. pro-
fesses, "The point of doing this is just to enjoy the
experience of listening to the melodies and at the
same time it's all those things the first album was
asking for; let's get a party going. Let's do this, let's
do that, we're going to, we, us. And we found that so
now it's about celebrating that unity."
--Sept. 10, 2003

OBITUARIES

JOEY RAMONE
195 1-2001
Joey Ramone, frontman of one of
the first punk bands ever, died at
2:40 p.m.on April 15. Joey Ramone
was the voice of the Ramones, the
band that paved the way for such
punk legends as the Sex Pistols and
the Clash. The Ramones' formula
was simple: Four chords, four guys,
same last name and no song over
two minutes.
- Elizabeth Hill
GEORGE HARRISON
1943-2001
George Harrison's death on
November 29 was so much more
than the passing of a legend, more
than the passing of "the quiet Beat-
le," the "spiritual Beatle," it was the
passing of a man. A man, who more
than a legend, was a Beatle, father
and husband ... Harrison's death
reminds there world that legends
have ends. Legends don't live for-
ever, despite the fact that they may
be deified by the masses - gods
they are not. Paul McCartney and
Ringo Starr are the last living links
to the Beatles now.
--Luke Smith
J.OE STRUMMER
1952-2002
John Graham Mellor, better
known as Joe Strummer, outspoken
frontman of pioneering British
punks The Clash, died Dec. 22,
2002 at his home, of heart failure.

He was famous for his loathing of
cheap sentiment, so I say this as a
cold hard matter of fact rather than
as the kind of groveling graveside
praise he would have hated; Strum-
mer's influence as singer, song-
writer, lyricist and artist/activist are
immeasurable and epitomize the
upper most peaks of what popular
music is capable. He was the
George Orwell of rock, a delicate
mix of unforgiving skepticism for
both sides and honest empathy for
the downtrodden.
- Scott Serilla

of complications from diabetes just
four months after wife June Carter
Cash passed away. ale will be
remembered for the gritty baritone,
which created a modern white
man's interpretation of gospel
singing styles, transforming coun-
try and rock music over more than
five decades.
- Steve Cotner

RSC wows
'U' with rare
performanCe
of tragedy
By Sarah Petersen
Daily Arts Writer
From the title character Coriolanus,
a noble and great warrior who despis-
es the lower class, to the two Tri-
bunes, Sicinius Velutus and Junius
Brutus, who serve as the speakers for
the voiceless masses, the Royal
Shakespeare Company's production of
this Shakespearean tragedy is nearly
flawless. The tale of Caius Martius'
rise to glory, after
his single-handed Coriolanus
defeat of the Vols-
cians, his fall into At the Power Center
exile, when his March 7 & 8, 2003
contempt is open-
ly unleashed, and then his near devas-
tation of Rome, his city, could not
have been enacted more beautifully.
For three hours, the cast suspends
the audience in a space outside of real-
ity, as they tell a story of pride, betray-
al, love and grief. From the first word
to the last, the story is not enacted by
actors playing their roles, but rather by
actors living their roles. The lines flow
as if new thoughts, as opposed to recit-
ed, and the reactions seem genuine as
opposed to rehearsed. The troupe lives
up to their namesake with a truly regal
performance.
Leading the company in this produc-
tion is Greg Hicks in the role of Caius
Martius, later Coriolanus. Given that
the role is one of a life-long warrior,
no one could have performed the role
better. Hicks always makes his pres-
ence felt long before speaking a single
word. His posture and walk both
bespeak a man born to fight, and made
to lead men into battle. His stance is
always one of combat readiness, and
his sword is always at his side.
Coriolanus' only downfall is his
unchecked pride and his contempt for

urU tsy Vofdthefloyai 5OHIORO JVIcompan~Jy

Is that a kiss or a choke hold?

Courtesy of American Recordings

Coutesy oi Dreamworks
ELLIOTT SMITH
1969-2003

JOHNNY CASH
1932-2003
One of the greatest voices in
American music, singer/songwriter
Johnny Cash, died in Nashville at 2
a.m. April 12 at the age of 71. Bat-
tling pneumonia and stomach prob-
lems late in life, he ultimately died

"Elliott Smith died on the after-
noon of October 21 at a Los Ange-
les area hospital after apparently
taking his own life ... An unfortu-
nate tragedy that senselessly echoes
other early rock 'n'roll losses,
Smith's death came as a shock to his
devoted fans many of whom have
taken solace in the artist's confes-
sional depictions of his own strug-
gles with love, depression and
addiction. Admittedly morose
throughout his career, Smith often
wrote about suicidal issues and his
own experiences as a heroin user in
his music ... These themes will quite
possibly overwhelm listeners now,
only building the regrettable roman-
tic myth of another artist dying
young."
- Scott Serilla

the commoners, and Hicks brings this
aspect to life brilliantly. The audience
is driven to disapprove of his pride, but
compelled to respect his conviction.
Although full of scorn for common
folk, Coriolanus is not a man without
love. He has friends that he adores, and
a mother, wife and son who he cherish-
es deeply. It is this love of his mother
and friends that causes him much
anguish and pain, when trying to come
to terms with his banishment. Again,
Hicks gives a masterful performance;
portraying the internal struggles of his
character in such detail (a clench of the
jaw and a slight trembling while chok-
ing back tears, or a tension of the
shoulders released) that one can see
the instant when a decision is made.
Hicks steals the stage with his vivid
and colorful portrayal, but every other
performer in the cast is exceptional.
Richard Cordery (Menenius) is the
friend that everyone hopes to find,
with a quick wit and the intelligence to
know when to use it, and a cheerful
countenance. Chuck Iwuji (Tullus
Aufidiuos) is the sworn enemy of
Coriolanus, but is a man stricken with
both love and hate for the warrior he
has always aspired to be. Hannah
Young (Virgilia) begins as the quiet,
unquestioning wife of Coriolanus, but
she breaks hearts when desperately

pleading with her husband to have
mercy on Rome. And playing the other
woman in Coriolanus' life, Alison
Fiske is both commanding and mater-
nal, in her exquisite portrayal of Cori-
olanus' mother.
The actors are the ones who trans-
form the story into the living, breath-
ing masterpiece that it is, but the set,
props, costumes, lighting, sound and
special effects add to the plays
detailed intricacy. The lights alter the
stage from the soft red haze of the
indoors, to the bluish tint of the night
sky. A fog blows on stage to portray
the dustiness of the streets, and the
mist of the battlefield. Finally, the
minimalist set, the authentic props
and music and the magnificent cos-
tumes, all bring to life the theme of
the Samurai, a warrior trained from
childhood to be hard and without
fear, a lifestyle parallel to that of
Coriolanus.'
While in residency, the Royal Shake-
speare Company will also be perform-
ing "The Merry Wives of Windsor" on
Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at
1:30 p.m., and "Midnight's Children"
beginning next Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
Comprised of a troupe of superb actors,
all of the three plays are more than
worth a night at the theater.
- Mar 7, 2003

I'H OW DO
T T "tAVI i ,T

m

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