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March 25, 2005 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-03-25

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Friday
March, 25, 2005
arts. michigandaily.com
artspage@michigandaily.com

ARTS

8

A

JULIA TAPPER/Daily
LSA and Art junior Sam Kim and LSA freshman Joon
Ho Choi participate in a dance at rehearsal.
GenAPA performs
for tsunami relief

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By Amanda Andrade
Daily Arts Writer
Eleventh-hour preparations and
last-minute polishing put a sheen on
months of hard work today as the

Generation Asian
Pacific American
multicultural show
prepares for this
year's debut. The
pan-Asian celebra-
tion will donate
all proceeds to
the tsunami relief
effort. It's an act

GenAPA
Culture Show
Tonight at 8 p.m.
$12
At the Power Center

of social consciousness that, according
to co-chair and LSA senior Tae-Kyung
Kim, is particularly fitting with the
group's goals of bridging communities
and expanding worldviews.
"The unique thing about GenAPA,"
said Kim, "is that the main focus of our
group and our participants isn't to have
a great show ... but the main goal is the
journey our participants take." In par-
ticular, members are required to accu-
mulate a certain number of community
building points to perform in the show.
Point-earning events are meant to
help participants reach out to both other
members of the APA community as
well as other groups they might not nor-
mally have the chance to interact with.
"This year, for example, we've done so
much work with La Voz Latina" Kim
said, "our goal was not just community
building within the APA community,
DJs fuse
eclectic
sounds on,
new LP
By Gabe Rivin
For the Daily

but community building outside of that
because we felt we couldn't grow as an
APA community without the University
community."
The show seeks to promote openness
and collaboration, and core members
say they hope that the general student
population will come to learn more
about Asian issues and cultural diver-
sity within the community. "We have
students from all over Asia participating
in the show, and there are specific acts
that are geared towards specific areas in
Asia," Kim said.
"As for the show's entertainment, I
think that it's an infusion of our heritage
with our present life, and how we see
ourselves as Asian-Americans," Kim
said. "We open with hip hop because we
feel it's something that doesn't exclude
any Asian communities, but actually
brings us together."
Acts and Auditions co-chair Rimi
Saha, an LSA senior, echoed these sen-
timents. "I joined GenAPA because I
knew that it was different from all the
other cultural shows in that it illus-
trated how the different communities
within the APA community can come
together and put on this amazing show
and yet build bonds and relationships
with other people that wouldn't neces-
sarily happen otherwise. And I'm just
really proud of it."
Both Saha and Kim expressed the
necessity of maintaining the bonds
forged by the tsunami tragedy, and hope
that people watching the show will be
enlightened and empowered, as well as
entertained.

PICARESQUE' A RETURN TO FORM FOR INDIE ROCKERS

By Alexandra Jones
Daily Arts Editor

Colin Meloy and his motley crew have transcended
the quirky indie-pop character pieces that first caught
listeners' attention on 2003's Her
Majesty and their 2002 debut
Castaways and Cutouts to create The
an emotionally intense, dramatic DeCemberists
collection of songs that entwine Picaresque
lyrical material and instrumen-
tals to create a greater whole. Kill Rock Stars
Meloy's words were these previ-
ous albums' strength, but only by
a little. Now, The Decemberists have fused music with
clearly defined character and Meloy's intricate, balla-
dic narratives, more literary than ever, to spin some of
the most vivid, enthralling works in indie music.
Picaresque is the kind of work fans have come
to expect from The Decemberists: Their songs are
composed of vivid illustrations of intimate tableaux
supported by epic storytelling and backed with a
personal yet lively pop style. "Infanta" opens the
album with spooky shofar (a ram's horn) howls and
the rumbling of a pachyderm parade. "Infanta" is the
word for the Portuguese or Spanish princess who's

being exalted
Picaresque is stacked with standout tracks
whose characters range from barren baronesses
and vengeful pirates to Russian spies. Drama
drives each of the 11 scene-songs; at least 10 deaths
occur over the course of the album, and that's not
counting the war-bound soldiers from "16 Mili-
tary Wives," "Out of which only 12 will make it
back again." Each track plays out like a mini-music
drama; "The Mariner's Revenge Song" might as
well be the finale to an epic dramatic production.
Meloy, playing the vengeful sailor, finally gets his
quarry alone - they're the only two survivors after
a whale swallowed their ship. "Its ribs are ceiling
beams / Its guts are carpeting," he sings, and fans
can almost see the two onstage, squaring off in a
turn-of-the-century band shell painted to look like
a marine mammal's innards. Suddenly, the rest of
the band appears behind Meloy, ghoul-faced with
accordion and double bass, ready to tell the cruel
captain though song why he has to die.
More intimate tracks like "Eli, The Barrow Boy,"
"From My Own True Love (Lost At Sea)" and closing
piece "Of Angels and Angles" are composed mostly
of simple acoustic guitar with a few organ touches
here and there; the refrain from the titular doomed
peddler in "Eli," "She is dead and gone and lying
in a pine grove / And I must push my barrow all the

day," is Picaresque's most heartwrenching moment.
"16 Military Wives" is the first song on which Meloy
really places the music at the fore, with raucous horn
lines and even some "Pump It Up"-style bass sell-
ing the chorus "'Cause America can / And America
can't say no." But Picaresque's epic - its "Cali-
fornia One/Youth and Beauty Brigade," is "Engine
Driver:" Laid-back, bittersweet guitar strumming
paired with a mellow drumbeat back Meloy, speak-
ing as a truck driver, a money lender but first, in the
most beautifully composed chorus on the album - a
writer: "And I am a writer, writer of fictions, / I am
the heart that you call home. / And I've written pages
upon pages trying to rid you from my bones."
Each line of "Engine Driver" envelops the listener
in Meloy's world - listeners are placed inside the
narrative, either as the speaker or the one spoken
to. Sets spring up at the sound of glittery 12-string
strumming, oscillating organ tones and melodic
flutters create makeup and period garb - listen-
ers are hitting a late-night rest stop in the middle of
nowhere, standing at the edge of a precipice over-
looking the English Channel with their star-crossed
lover. Meloy's songs are the modern fairytales we're
not too old to live out in our daydreams; we feel and
see them so closely in our minds that these stories
are almost as familiar as "Cinderella" or "Sleeping
Beauty."

Courtesy of Kill
Rock Stars
"Now that
we are
done being
extras
for the
'Float On'
video, we
can make
a CD."

_=Poet Plath remembered in 'Fugue'

The generational wingspan of music,
in all genres and forms, lies behind the
layered eclecticism of Lemon Jelly's
third album, '64-'95. The album reads
not so much as a collection of tracks,

Courtesy Impotent Fury

but as a musing
through the time,
style, beauty and
trends of the musi-
cal aesthetic rang-
ing from 1964 to
1995. As contrived
as the classification

Lemon Jelly
'64-'95
Impotent Fury/XL

may sound, '64-'95 is a concept-album;
each track is titled, respectively, by the
year from which the song's main sample
was taken. Although the idea of the con-
cept album appears pretentious, Lemon
Jelly achieves an untiring electronic
fusion of experimental sound.
Fred Deakin and Nick Franglen, the
DJs and producers behind the band's
silly moniker of Lemon Jelly have cre-
ated what appears initially as a schizo-
phrenic piece of music: Tracks alternate
between the dark dance floors of New
York and the fluffy wheat fields of
the Midwest. However, Lemon Jelly's
concept is not regionally relegated; it
weaves together the fragments of three
decades of American music, rearrang-
ing the musical instances and placing
them before our eyes with a full aware-

I don't think you're ready for this jelly.
ness of history and tradition.
Opening with the mumbles of a man
confused about his past, Lemon Jelly
attempts to make sense, or at least ana-
lyze, what music has been like in recent
American history. The album nods with
gleeful nostalgia at the peaceful guitar
plucking of the '60s in songs like " '68
AKA Only Time." Similarly, in " '95
AKA Make Things Right," a Led Zep-
pelin-esque folk stomp is layered upon a
warm, spacey synthesizer and a reserved
drum sample.
Lemon Jelly, despite the uncountable
number of genres that subsume their
music, can be ultimately classified as an
electronic DJ collaboration. Fully aware
of the classification, '64-'95 engages
itself in the history of DJ-hood, begin-
ning with playful trips down disco lane
in " '75 AKA Stay with You," along to
the hellishly intense decadence of the
'80s dance club of " '88 AKA Come
Down on Me." The problem with such
a historicized and theorized record
is that tracks like the aforementioned
become grating after several listens.
The immeasurable amount of layering

and sound sometimes clash unpleasant-
ly and forcefully together. No one really
wants to revisit the atmosphere of the
steroid-pumped '80s club.
The most attractive feature of the
album, ultimately, is not the intellectual
orgasm which music aficionados live for
via recognition, but the pureness and
complexity of the sound. Several listens
to " '76 AKA The Slow Train" virtually
guarantees a sublime experience - a
trance of the mind in which all reality
melts behind the synthetic-sounding
layers of vocal harmony, the fixating
jungle beat and the pointed contrast
between the heroin-slow vocals and fast
background tempo. Lemon Jelly does
what the masterful DJ does best: puts
together found items into a new listen-
ing experience.
Though the '64-'95 pleases most
when it's organically orientated and
irritates the most during cyclical syn-
thetic chaos, the collage of 30 years-
worth of samples gives Lemon Jelly the
rights to be placed in the same ranks
as electronic masters DJ Shadow, Daft
Punk and RJD2.

By Lucille Vaughan
For the Daily
One of the most notorious love triangles in literary
history is the tragic relationship between American
poet Sylvia Plath, her English hus-
band Ted Hughes and Ted's mistress
Assia Wevill. In Robert Anderson's Little Fugue
"Little Fugue," the author dissects By Robert
the bizarre emotional circumstances Anderson
that led to tragedy for these individ- Ballantine
uals through a fictional reinterpre-
tation. While Anderson presents a
unique retelling of Plath's death and
its repercussions, his novel fails literary masterpiece sta-
tus by biting off more than it can chew.
Plath is an extraordinarily talented and severely dis-
turbed woman who is haunted by unresolved emotions
stemming from her father's death and her husband's infi-
delity. After Plath commits suicide, Hughes struggles
with the blame heaped upon him by Plath's fans, while
Wevill tries to take her place. As if the story didn't already
contain enough drama, Anderson creates a fictional alter
ego for himself, "Robert," who battles a heroin addic-
tion in the seedy district of New York City's 42nd Street
and manages to witness every historical event from the
anti-Vietnam War protests at Columbia University to the
Sept. 11 attacks of 2001.
Anderson is highly ambitious in his effort to cram
every possible facet of the human experience into 367
pages. In his attempt to realistically portray the char-
acters' neurosis, the book sometimes makes for a con-
fusing read. Yet in spite of the surfeit of information,
Anderson captures the characters' desperation and gives
a vivid portrayal of their interactions. Conversations
between people are simple and realistic; Anderson saves
his more flowery prose for inner monologues, which
reveal their tortured spirits. The marginal characters,
including Robert's elusive girlfriend Sabbath, keep with
the strangeness of the tale and add to the grim and hal-
lucinogenic setting.
The character of Ted Hughes is passive aggressive in
a disturbing way. He is represented as one of the cata-
lysts who caused Plath's death, and also as the deserv-
ing victim of Plath's vengeance from beyond the grave.
Here, Anderson's novelistic bias against Hughes is made

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apparent. Sylvia Plath's character makes a brief and
undistinguished appearance at the beginning of the novel
as she wanders around her London apartment preparing
for suicide. Surprisingly, the most resonant character
in the novel is the lesser-known Assia Wevill. Haunted
by Sylvia's malevolent presence, Assia responds to her
environment by constant digression that underlines her
own growing madness.
Unfortunately, Anderson's links between fiction and
history often seem forced and unnecessary, like his
description of Ted Hughes' brief encounter with John
Lennon and Yoko Ono. Overall, Anderson's effort falls
short in its grand attempt, but presents a different look
at one of the most notorious relationships in literary his-
tory. If little else, "Little Fugue" is a solid testament to
Sylvia Plath's continuing legacy.

DAILY ARTS.
THE MOvhE EVENT EF

Martin's adaptation of 'Underpants' is revealing'

By Stephen Jenkins
For the Daily

ment Arts because he wanted to break
away from the vast
amount of seri-

The title of the play, although humor-
ous, is not misleading - the story does
in fact revolve around a pair of under-

vices are seen in all the characters, but
the message about feminism is more
focused on the growth of Louise. While

I

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