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October 14, 2004 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-10-14

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 14, 2004 - 11A

Harper,
Blind Boys
try gospel
By Jamie Hillenberg
For the Daily

As artists grow and their musical
styles mature, change is inevitable.
It is a byproduct of growth and
a healthy sign that those highly
artistic and talented minds haven't
yet given all that they've got. Often
this transition works and the artist

We may look tough, but we sound like Dave Matthews Band.

Courtesy of Capcom
"Mortal Kombat" can kiss my ass.
Cclaeom's cas siC fighter returns

is easily able to
carry their dedi-
cated and faith-
ful fan base with
them into their
new era of sound
but hey travel
too far in the
wrong direction
and end up com-
pletely aban-

Ben Harper
and the
Blind Boys
of Alabama
rhere Will Be Ligh1
Virgin

two forces have found musical suc-
cess; however, it still does leave
the listener longing, at times, for
that familiar Harper sound that he
has secured for himself over the
years.
Of Harper's many obvious musi-
cal talents, his ability to incorpo-
rate variety and push his musical
boundaries has always kept him
ahead of the pack. For the 11 tracks
on this album, Harper uses his
magic to fuse a variety of sounds
with the highly traditional vibe
brought in by The Blind Boys, cre-
ating an eclectic but still balanced
gospel album. Songs range from
the upbeat country rock "Church
On Time" to the slow and piano-
heavy "Where Could I Go," a chill-
ing spiritual ballad that fits the
clarity of Harper's powerful voice
to a T.
Traces of Harper's funk roots
can be heard in the catchy "Church
House Steps" and similar sound-
ing "Wicked Man." However, in
"Wicked Man" especially, the
beats are too safe and too toned-
down to give the song life and
energy. The album also includes
traditional songs such as the spiri-
tual a capella ballad "Mother Pray"
which uses four-part harmonies to
achieve that old-time church choir
feel. Other notable songs on the

By Adam Rottenberg
Daily Arts Editor

"Street Fighter 2" - the consummate fighting game
- returns to consoles 15 years after its arcade debut.
Capcom is celebrating the anniversary of its illustrious
franchise with this collection of clas-
sic "Street Fighter" games, but unfor-
tunately, it leaves a lot to be desired. Street Fighter
Those looking for flashy 3-D graph- Anniversary
ics will be sorely disappointed. How- Collection
ever, fans of "Street Fighter 2" and PS2
"Street Fighter 3" will be ready to hit
their combos and destroy the comput- capcom
er competition. "Street Fighter Anni-
versary Collection" emulates a new hybrid version of
"SF2" and features the "3rd Strike" version of "SF3." The
original game, alternate editions of "SF2" and "SF3," the
"Alpha" series and the awful movie tie-in are all missing.
But what Capcom did supply should satisfy the hardcore
fighting fan.
"Street Fighter 2" is the game that ate quarter after
quarter at arcades in the early '90s. This "Anniversa-
ry" edition is basically a combination of all five alter-
nate editions of "SF2" that were released: the original,
Championship Edition, Turbo, Super and Super Turbo.
The fighter select screen is most representative of Super

Turbo, but upon selecting a fighter, the player is given a
choice of which version of the fighter they wish to play.
The graphics of the character - in both the fighter select
screen and in the match - look like that version of the
character. Additionally, the edition determines the move-
set and combos for the fighter. So, for example, if Ryu
is selected from the Championship Edition, he does not
have the super bar found in Super Turbo.
If this sounds too confusing, that's because Cap-
com teased its fans for so long before releasing a true
sequel. When "Street Fighter 3" finally came out, it was
met with much frustration. Few fighters returned from
"SF2," and both the graphics and gameplay didn't feel
upgraded enough - though Capcom attempted to rectify
both problems through two enhanced semi-sequels. "3rd
Strike" fixed some of these issues and seems stronger
now than it did upon its initial release.
The ports of both games are flawless, but they are just
that, ports. For the most part nothing is new and the lone
feature that would have added significantly to the game-
play - online fighting - will only be available for the
yet to be released Xbox version. Instead, PS2 owners
get treated to a special "Street Fighter 2" anime; not an
entirely fair trade-off.
Even though the games are dated both graphically
and mechanically, there still are few titles more fun than
either of these "Street Fighter" titles. It would have been
nice if there were more bonus material included, but it's
the gameplay that matters most.

doning their signature sound. Ben
Harper, who is best known for his
catchy blends of funk, rock, blues
and soul, walks this very fine line
with his newest release, There Will
Be Light.
Leaving behind his band The
Innocent Criminals, Harper has
teamed up with the historic gospel
group The Blind Boys of Alabama
to create his first gospel album.
Harper's music has always con-
tained religious undertones, but
never to this capacity. The Blind
Boys, all of whom are legally blind,
have a very powerful musical pres-
ence that provides a solid base for
Harper's rich voice. Together these

album include the instrumental
"11th Commandment," which sadly
is only one of two songs to really
show off Harper's infamous slide
guitar skills. And the title track,
"There Will Be A Light," stands
out as the most fan-friendly tune,
with its easy beats, strong vocals
and memorable chorus.
Whether it be his usual acoustic
ballad or a highly spiritual ode to
Jesus, Ben Harper certainly knows
what he's doing. He succeeds at
blending styles to make this newer
gospel sound his own. There Will
Be Light, however, lacks familiari-
ties such as his slide guitar, jammy
acoustic rocking and funk beats
and, in the end, levels itself off as
a great album that was just made
for the wrong audience.

Trio 's albums attempt new sounds

By Andrew Horowitz
Daily Arts Writer

Emo punk band Say
Anything fail on debut

For almost two decades, Michael
Gordon, David Lang and Julia
Wolfe's Bang on a Can has remained
committed to presenting new music.
In the vein of contemporaries like the
Kronos Quartet, Bang on a Can con-
tinues to play and record adventurous
projects that maintain a degree of

es f a+. CA y ig

By Jerry Gordinier
Fbr the Daily

Alright you emo punks, there's a

new band in town.
Say Anything
frontman Max
Bemis managed
to put together Say
Anything is a Real
Boy among the
agony of sleeping

Say Anything
Say Anything
Is a Real Boy
Doghouse

in his parent's basement and the tor-
ment of walking the dogs for dispos-
able income. This one is deep, so get
out the tissue box and thick rimmed
glasses, find the ex-girlfriend's tele-
phone number (the one that left the
hair all over the apartment) and settle
in for some real tear-jerking commen-
tary. Get ready to feel vindicated! Get
ready to feel!,
An excerpt from the album booklet:
The songs on this recorded album
were originally written as part of a
"rock opera" with a full narrative,
spoken word interludes, a cast of
characters. The plot revolved around
an unsuccessful punk rock band
called Say Anything . . . one night,
a supernatural power "curses" Max

(Bemis) with a mysterious affliction.
The "curse" causes his inner-most
fears, fantasies and thoughts to burst
forth from his unsuspecting mouth in
the form of fully orchestrated rock
anthems.
It's all true. Say Anything is an
unsuccessful punk rock band.
The album's first track, "Belt,"
opens with satirical, spoken-word
foreplay between Max and some unim-
portant character. He ends his feigned
confusion with a defiant statement:
"And the record begins with a song
of rebellion." To this end he forms
a coalition of disorienting, "edgy,"
electric-guitar lines, poor vocals and
dull lyrics, to rebel against harmony,
real emotion and the listener.
Then, of course, there are the rela-
tionship songs. What terrible emo
album would be complete without
some girl ripping a heart out? On
the album's ninth track, "Every Man
has a Molly," Bemis insipidly states
"Here I am, laid bare, at the end of my
rope. I've lost all hope. So long! Molly
Connolly just broke up with me over
the revealing nature of the songs."
Set against the background of angry
(horribly off-key) group vocals and
dark (trite) power chords, it leaves the
listener almost longing for Dashboard

accessibility. Two
new additions on
their own Canta-
loupe label add
to their wealthy
catalogue.
The first, Philip
Glass: Music in
Fifths, remembers
the revolutionary
musical landscape
of the 1960s,
when minimal-
ism was emerging
as a viable move-

Bang on
a Can
Philip Glass:
Music In Fifths
and
Bang on a Can
Meets Kyaw
Kyaw Naing
cantaloupe Music

Confessional.
The majority of the album feels
more like lecture hall than dance
hall. The guitar and bass lines are
hushed, while Bemis presents rather
than sings his propaganda. While
there are sparks of real, intellectual
commentary, (most notably on the
infectious "Yellow Cat/Red Cat")
he extinguishes them. Bemis truly
is cursed: His overwhelming narcis-
sism and "starving artist" complex
come through to the point where no
one can truly believe in his suffering
or disaffection.
The blatant honesty of the lyrics ...
strike a powerful chord amongst the
underground culture that once dis-
regarded Say Anything as "unsub-
stantial." Now worshipped by the
youth of America as a Christ-like
figure, Bemis begins a worldwide
quest to use his powers to vanquish
all hypocrisy.
That makes everyone an atheist.

adding the lightness of a marimba to
the mix. The composition examines
the deconstruction of a musical five-
note phrase, a 27-minute response to
Glass's early exposure to the ragas of
Ravi Shankar.
For Glass aficionados, this record-
ing is a chance to hear a skilled
ensemble reinterpret Glass's early
minimalist origins. For the average
listener, the relentless pacing makes
Philip Glass: Music in Fifths a dif-
ficult listen.
The other release, Bang on a Can
Meets Kyaw Kyaw Naing, introduces
a collaboration between the ensemble
and Burmese percussionist/composer
Kyaw Kyaw Naing. Naing is a mas-
ter of the pat waing, a traditional
instrument made of 21 surrounding,
separately tuned drums. His mas-
tery of the instrument and composi-
tional prowess has made him famous
throughout Southeast Asia.
Meets Kyaw Kyaw Naing mixes
improvisation with through-com-
posed song. The tracks generally
sound like Western musicians play-
ing Asian music; the sound is har-
monically grounded in non-Western
pentatonics. The rhythm and tempo
frequently encounter drastic trans-
formations, bridging ideas and
focusing the attention on the call-
and-response nature of Naing's com-

ment. Philip Glass, alongside Terry
Riley, LaMonte Young and other
minimalists, stripped modernism
to its most basic musical elements.
The basis of composition became an
inherit simplicity of rhythm and har-
mony, a far cry from the atonal hyper-
intellectual modernism of the day. On
Philip Glass: Music in Fifths, Bang
on a Can transcribes two early Glass
works for the ensemble.
"Music in Fifths" unfolds as its
title implies, taking five notes and
repeating them in different order
and rhythmic variations over twen-
ty-four-and-a-half minutes. This is
Glass at his most intense, insistently
poking his listener, a far cry from
the recent harmonic lushness that
defines his compositions. The other
piece, "Two Pages," is less severe,

positions. Naing, no doubt, displays
stunning dexterity and harmonic
proficiency. Too often, however, the
call-and-response on improvisatory
passages isn't interesting enough
to sustain attention. The collabora-
tion works best when Naing and the
ensemble are most compositionally
confined.
At a time when contemporary music
is needy of proponents, these record-
ings come as a blessing. Bang on the
Can creates music that's both chal-
lenging and accessible and reminds
contemporary music enthusiasts that
innovation is alive and present. There
still is much terrain left unexplored.
Philip Glass: ****
Meets Kyaw Kyaw Naing: ***

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