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November 02, 2004 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-11-02

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 2, 2004 -11

CASTANETS CAST ALLURING PICTURE

By Andrew M. Gaerig
Daily Music Editor
The wheezing, muted horns that open the Cas-
tanets' debut album, Cathedral, are indicative of
the band's cracked America: rusty, broken and
strangely alluring. It's not an altogether surpris-
ing worldview coming from Castanets frontman
Raymond Raposa, who tested
out of high school at age 15
and spent the next four years Castanets
touring the United States on a Cathedral
Greyhound bus. Asthmatic Kitty
It's a pleasant surprise, then,
that Cathedrals contains none
of the "tortured genius finds America, himself"
lyrics that it might have. In fact, the odd, disturbing
sounds of Castanets fly in the face of conventional
"American" albums. Whereas classic American
albums like Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited
and Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run connote a
sense of motion and discovery, Cathedral is mired
in its swampy reverberations. Indeed, there's little
here that would enhance the experience of a cross-
continental traveler driving along the roads with

his Walkman (ahem, iPod). Instead, Cathedral
is a slow, static album that speaks more from the
mythic woodlands of Northern California (where
the album was recorded) than from the some meta-
phorical highway.
In fact, the vague, romantic ideals that usually
follow road trips around don't appear until "Cathe-
dral 4 (The Unbreakable Branch and Song),"
when Raposa sings "This is all our home" over
the album's gutsiest up-tempo guitar strumming.
Up until "Cathedral 4" - the last track - there's
nothing to suggest Raposa can even get outside
of his own head. The compositions on Cathedral
are reminiscent of fellow noisy American upstarts
such as Wilco or Califone: Shaky drums, ethereal
acoustic chords and spooky organs all veer in and
out of the mix. Raposa's vanilla voice plods along
at the same place. His sing-speak ruminations are
appropriately dour and frequently the least-engag-
ing aspect of the album.
"You Are the Blood," for instance, is simultane-
ously one of the album's best tracks and indicative
of the album's greatest faults. Ghostly electronics
usher in Raposa, singing in slight harmony with a
echoed female voice: "You are the blood flowing
through my fingers / All through the soil and up
in those trees." Intimidating horn blasts echo his

Asthm~atic Kitty
We're blurry
because
OF AMERICA
lines, blowing through the sloth-slow drum hits.
By the end of the track, the song has devolved into
random drum palpitations and static. It's an intimi-
dating, creepy mess, a death-folk ballad filled with
potent blasts of noise. It's also sluggish, humorless,
and utterly disconnected with the outside world.
"No Light to Be Found (Fare Thee Faith, the Path
Is Yours)" has a similar problem. Raposa opens the
song in utter isolation, "I've got something that my
baby wants," and later, "I had a dream so black
/ That I could not tell / But I know that's just as
well." Raposa's gravel throat gives these words a
gravity that this page can't, but for listeners not in
an lonely, autumnal mood, there's no salvation in
such gray thoughts.
Raposa does occasionally move into more tradi-
tional alt-country territory, and while this sound is
less unique, it humanizes his weariness in ways that
his noisier work doesn't even approach. It's for this
reason that thealbum's final two songs - "We Are
the Wreckage" and the aforementioned "Cathedral
4" - feel so invigorated. Cathedral is a great rainy-
day album, and Raposa has a singular vision and
sound that many of his contemporaries can only
dream of. Until he learns to tone down the angst
and brighten the cabin, however, his rusty Ameri-
cana will never realize its full potential.

By Abby Stotz
Daily Arts Writer

elevated diction ant
every single good li
ous to see the All-Ar

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Season 2 set 'Lost'
without solid extras

D D look confused at Sm
ways. Smith's fastid
"Lost in Space" was an exceptionally almost like a bluepr
popular show in the 1960s about space TV character Frasie
explorers marooned on an unknown The visuals on "I
planet - long before the bad Matt as campy as expec
LeBlanc film remake. out of everything an
The Robinson family spent three he's made out of a
seasons trying to get back home. Now, some Christmas ligh
the second season can be seen on DVD. painted backdrop a
"Lost in Space" is wardrobe choice tha
not the average nauts in v-neck silve
show, justifying its Lost in The features on th
release. Space: exceptionally spars
Joining the Season 2 only two radio inte
Robinsons on the 20th Century Fox - one with the acto
spaceship are the Mrs. Robinson (G
pilot - the hand- June Lockhart) and
some Don West (Mark Goddard) - as Still photos from tI
well as hoity-toity stowaway Dr. Zach- visual accompanim
ary Smith (Jonathan Harris) and Robby and Lockhart interv
the Robot, owner of the memorable much, except thatV
catchphrase, "Danger, Will Robinson! off a sweaty horse a
Danger!" likes to read. The F
The planet they live on is no barren far more entertainin
wasteland. It's populated with many "Lost in Space"
strange guests, including an enchanted back into the histot
knight, a red monkey faced alien who won't tell a great st
makes androids, a dragon with a pink its special effects, bt
bow on her head and the ancient Norse, pie of 'fi0s fare. Due
thunder god Thor. The series is a sort of extras, this set wt
of unbelievable escapism that could the price for a classi
only have been made in the '60s. -
Unquestionably, the most satisfy- Show: ***
ing of the series was Dr. Smith. He's Features: *
so snobby that he speaks with the most Sound/Picture: **

d manages to grab
ine. Dr. It's hilari-
merican Robinsons
tith and his uptight
dious nature seems
int for the seminal
r Crane.
Lost in Space" are
ted. Sparks shoot
d Robby looks like
plastic donut and
hts. There's a stock
nd an unfortunate
t put all the astro-
r jumpsuits.
he four-disc-set are
e. They consist of
rviews from 1966
rs playing Mr. and
uy Williams and
one with Harris.
he set flash by for
ent. The Williams
view doesn't reveal
Williams once fell
nd Lockhart really
Harris interview is
g.
is great journey
ry of television. It
ory or amaze with
sltit is a fine exam-
ein part to the lack
ould only be worth
c TV buff.

Zaire-born Mama traces her history

By Khepra Akanke
For the Daily
Zap Mama, born Marie Daulne in
Zaire, draws inspiration from her Afri-
can heritage, British upbringing and
love of contemporary soul music on
her newest album Ancestry in Progress.
She combines earthy, sultry vocals with
rhythms reminiscent of calypso, jazz and
hip-hop. Featuring Erykah Badu, Con-

mon, Talib Kweli and ?uestlove of the
Roots on drums, Ancestry, is a musical
success._
Each song takes
listeners on a Zap Mama
journey, with Zap Ancestry in
Mama acting as an Progress
enthusiastic guide. Luka Bop
"Show Me the
Way," is a night on the town with "the
girls." The song is infused with festive
sounds that express the joy of sharing
true friendship. "Alright" is a lament to a

lost love, as she tries to resign herself to
the end of the relationship. Almost half
the songs are in French, which contrib-
utes to the diversity of the album and the
allure of the tracks. Unfortunately, this
also poses a bit of a problem for non-
French-speaking listeners, as they won-
der what exactly is being said.
A beautiful language and a lovely
voice create an exotic and artful expres-
sion of love, fun and pleasure. Zap Mama
invokes all these feelings with her unique
sound in Ancestry In Progress, simulta-

neously reaching back to her rich musical
heritage and looking forward to the future
via a talented cast of collaborators.

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