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November 16, 2005 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-11-16

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Wednesday
November 16, 2005
arts.mithigandaily.com
artspage@michigandaily.com

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NOAH KORN/Daily

Kinesiology student Santos Perez Vargas analyzes photos for his English 125 class at the UMMA.
AOTGREAT Y EXPRESSO
PHOTOGRAPHS EXPLORE POVERITY IN RURAL 1930Os AMERICA

The most recognizable images
behind electronic music aren't
exactly the most artistically
profitable, let alone representative:
The raver kid with a pacifier and
bottle of Rx fun.
The aging hippie who likes to use
the word "chill" excessively.
And, of course, the absolutely Euro-
America club lizard who
likes to dance around
Manhattan to the same
songs everyone made fun
of in "A Night At The
Roxbury."
What's interesting is
that remarkable, artistic
electronic music is'reach-
ing a watershed era and
way too many people are
sleeping through it. It's not E
just the past few years that McG
have been vital, tight and
ridiculously impressive, it's the fact
that some of the golden artists of the
past few decades are finally, and right-
fully, moving into history.
Everyone, from Neptunes to Big &
Rich to Interpol, has gotten fat from
the weird boundary pushing German
and British lab nerds did back in the
'70s. Dusselldorf's Kraftwerk and
their industrial "robot rock" taught
American and British rock bands how
to make the studio experience more
brittle and stark. England's Brian Eno
showed everyone that pop could still
sound like pop - even after it played
with some digital angles for a while.
Today we're immersed in it like
the air we breathe; the universe of
American pop music is obsessed with
electronics and the digital proper-
ties of sound. Whether you reject or
adore it, it usually plays a major role
in the way music is crafted. The White
Stripes, The Postal Service, 50 Cent
and Wilco, major bands as diverse as
it gets, all would have drastic shifts
in their sound if it weren't for the tin-
kering synthesizer geeks and studio-
philes in past years.
For some artists, this relationship to
the seemingly inhuman, impersonal
side of music never ends. They use
computers and other tools to achieve
what's at the heart of all music:.
expression of human experiences
through sound in unique, specific way.
Electronic music uses what's easily
labeled artificial or inauthentic to
mold resonant forms of expression.
That isn't a defense of a genre (no
genre needs a defense), though some,
like this one, need clarification. And
like all other genres, there are plenty
of weak spots. The ultra-cool shield
of electronic music has its dents: the
woozy, endless nausea of low-grade
trance and those bleating, stop-start
club songs where an anonymous for-
eign woman shrieks about something
related to dancing. You know, those

By Andrew Klein
and Kristine Michel
Daily Arts Writers

songs from club scenes in "Sex and
the City."
Which of course means that I've
seen "Sex and the City" enough to
remember the music.
Awesome. I feel great. That's a
nice one, Evan.
But seriously, the vital electronic
music we've been missing for the
past few years is layered,
instantly accessible and
thrilling. It's a wide-open
world: trip-hop, drum
and bass, jungle, ambi-
ent music all coincide,
.and what's more, they've
all been around for some
time now.
So, again, in the inter-
est of fairness, here are
AN some electronic outfits
kRVEY that have helped me get a

VA
iA

The Great Depression, a landmark in Ameri-
can history, stands out because of its devastating
impact on the isolated sub-
culture of the rural South. In
the summer of 1936, Fortune Let US
Magazine commissioned
photographer Walker Evans Now Praise
and journalist James Agee Famous Men
to document the plight of Now through
Depression-era sharecrop- Dec. 18
pers, specifically in rural
Alabama. The magazine At UMMA
rejected their efforts, which
led to the publication of the
images and text in the 1941 book "Let Us Now
Praise Famous Men." Their collaboration is on
display at the University of Michigan Museum
of Art and will through Dec. 18. Considered a
landmark in photojournalism, this exhibit not
only examines the socio-economic issues of
rural sharecroppers, but also is in dialogue with
the concept of "objective journalism."
Through his series of black-and-white photos,
Evans places the viewer within the lives of the

sharecroppers, but wrestles with the problem of
using the camera to objectively document real
events, emotions and people with an innately
subjective camera.
Writing for a wealthier class far removed
from his subjects, Evans was cognizant not to
impose the belief systems of the well-educated
and the wealthy upon his subjects.
One of the exhibit's centerpieces, the portrait
of Allie Mae Burroughs, is the first image to
greet visitors. The picture is so striking because
the woman's gaze holds an emotional, universal
quality that transcends her own situation. While
Evans's devotion to maintaining a distance from
his subjects is laudable, images such as this are
a testament to the ability of a photo to take on
a life of its own. The intensity of the image Is
tangible even to the uninformed viewer.
The magazine's commission included an
accompanying article from Agee. The exhibit
references this text on several occasions, but
lengthy excerpts are absent. While it's true the
book kept the article separate from the images
to preserve separate dialogues, Agee's contribu-
tion was equally important. Instead of his origi-
nal words, the museum used its own descriptions
and explanations as a part of the exhibit. Several
original documents, such as drafts and letters
were displayed, but they lacked any noticeable
contribution to the exhibit. This decision denies

the viewer the authenticity of Agee's documen-
tation, as well as another medium through which
to interpret this period of American history.
Evans was afraid that the well-educated and
the wealthy would view his images with their
own ideas of art and beauty, which was not the
point of his work. That situation is mirrored by
the pictures' display in the University museum;
sophisticated viewers must understand that
while these images are works of art in and of
themselves, the original context cannot be for-
gotten.
Similar to the published book, the museum
duplicates a dichotomy between the wealthy
and the poor by contrasting several rural images
with those of the wealthy landowner and pros-
perous nearby town.
Though the original collection was not cre-
ated as a social critique, it can be read as such.
The humanity of these struggling Alabama resi-
dents culminates in two final images showing
the grave of a child with an empty plate placed
on top of it next to a shot of a tree with gourd
birdhouses.
This exhibit presents Evans's images as works
of art. Though that might contrast with his
original intent, the images still carry their own
weight outside of an educated viewpoint. The
exhibit has a universal appeal to the educated,
the artist, the journalist'and the general public.

stronger sense of what the
genre can do:
Massive Attack sounds like syrup
dripping down a champagne glass:
slow, achingly smooth and almost
ominous. Don't blame them for the
cascade of also-rans who are cropping
up these days (cough ... Zero 7 ...
cough), because their run of albums,
Blue Lines and Mezzanine are both
gems - was so effortless and haunt-
ing no one could make "lounge" music
so visceral or enduring ever again.
"Skittering" is an understatement
when describing the music of Aphex
Twin. A dominant force in the mid-
'90s United Kingdom, this one-man
outfit fractures drums and basslines
at near the speed of sounds. He can
make blizzards in your headphones.
An intense and yet somehow peace-
ful trip through these quark loops of
sound is possible. Depends on just
how high your tolerance is.
Prefuse 73, the most contemporary
act on the list (his masterpiece, One
Word Extinguisher, was released in
2003), might also be the most palat-
able. Scott Herrin, the man behind
the Prefuse moniker (among others he
uses), uses a glitch style of electronica
that breaks up the different rhythms
of loops as much as it freezes and
melts patterns of sound. If that reads
awkwardly, trust me, the tempo shift
is smoother than a May breeze, and
the blend of drums, vocal samples
and crashing digital synths become a
warm narcotic.
Though the more inhuman and
cold weeks of the year are crawling
back day by day, there's one interest-
ing solution: an insulated cocoon of
digital atmospherics. Try it, couldn't
be worse than the Christmas albums
around the corner.
- McGarvey thinks that the Dust
Brothers are more important than The
Beatles in the history of music. Disagree?
E-mail him at evanbmcg@umich.edu.

'O.C. Mix' takes
res sounds
from the -show
By Abby Frackman
Daily Arts Writer
"The O.C.".has returned. Marissa has fallen back into
Ryan's arms, Summer and Seth have
reunited; and Kirsten has learned to
just say no to alcohol. Noone knows Aris
what's in store for season three, but AitiSts
if The O.C. Mix S is any indica- The 0.C. Mix 5
tor, viewers can expect to continue Warner Bros.
to hear quality, hip music in every
drama-filled episode.
From Kasabian's addictive melodies and lush drums
on "Reason is Treason" to newly popular LCD Sound-
system's offbeat "Daft Punk is Playing at My House,"
the disc contains an eclectic set of hits. Relative new-
comers The Subways also make an appearance by show-
ing off the band's vocal prowess on the energy-driven
opener "Rock & Roll Queen.".
Everyone's favorite virtual hip-hop group, Gorillaz,
makes its mark on the album as well with the slightly
dark tune "Kids With Guns." Maybe this is what Maris-
sa listened to on her iPod before shooting Trey. Part of

Retro sitcom finds its groove
By Megan Jacobs
Daily Arts Writer

Welcome back to the basement.
The third season of Fox's witty com-
edy "That '70s Show" is now on DVD,

recalling and rec-
reating the decade
of Led Zeppelin
and disco 'balls
more vividly than
mere memory. The
show, currently in
its eighth season,

That '70s
Show:
Season Three
20th Century Fox

Courtesy otfFox
Babes in boyland.
the reason "The O.C." mixes work so well is because
they include a range of songs the characters are likely
to listen to.
No "O.C." mix would be complete without a song by
Phantom Planet. Mix 5 contains "California 2005," a
watered-down version of its theme song "California"
with whistling and handclaps. Providing even more
diversity to the album is closer Imogen Heap's "Hide and
Seek," a beautifully melodic song with angelic vocals.
A trendy collection of album tracks, The O.C. Mix 5
has no particular sequence or concept, making it a grab
bag of carefully chosen singles.
Although "The O.C." is considered a guilty pleasure,
listening to its latest soundtrack doesn't have to be.

takes an unexpected turn in the third
installment - the central gang grows
out of their early adolescent awkward-
ness and the show evolves into a smart-
er, snappier sitcom.
Love serves as a primary element in
the third season. Eric (Topher Grace)
and girl-next-door Donna (Laura Pre-
pon) continue their sweetly bumbling
romance amidst the their friends' love
tangles (though their own relationship
takes an unexpected twist in the season
finale). Jackie (Mila Kunis) pursues
and eventually catches Hyde (Danny
Masterson), her polar opposite, to the
great disappointment of Kelso (Ash-
ton Kutcher), even though he's dating
Eric's older sister Laurie (Lisa Robin
Kelly). Of all the budding affairs, the
gem is Fez (Wilmer Valderrama), the
goofy foreign exchange student, who
finally lands Caroline (Allison Munn).
As eager as Fez is to "do it" with his
new sweetie, even that desire is under-
cut when he discovers her psychotic
tendencies.
As with previous seasons, getting
stoned acts not only as time for the

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

"Dude, what happened to my career?"

Grandaddy coasts on latest EP

By Joey LIpps
Daily Arts Writer
Grandaddy's latest EP, Excerpts
from the Diary of Todd Zilla, con-
tinues their run

If this tease is Grandaddy's col-
lection of B-sides from their upcom-
ing full-length album, then the new
record may again reach the status of
the highly acclaimed Sumday.
Lead singer Jason Lytle's voice
is an acquired taste that gives the
slnw sons a hvnnotic anneal. Gran-

Zilla might have some strikingly
catchy songs, but, after several lis-
tens, the songs do not have the same
impact as the tracks on Sumday or
Sophtware Slump.
One of the most uncharacteris-
tic tracks is "Florida," a fast-paced
song that ends with a punkish tirade

to stiffen the house rules, much to the
kids' chagrin. Despite Red's "no more
Mr. Nice Guy" plans, the group still
finds ways to have their follies, usually
courtesy of Photo Hut owner and eter-
nal hippie Leo (Tommy Chong).
Unlike most sitcoms and teen dramas
where the plot pivots around the kids
and the parents play fringe roles at best,
"That '70s Show" creates a dynamic
interplay where Eric and Donna's par-
ents are integral to the plotlines. Red
and Bob Pinciotti (Don Stark) battle
over property lines and barbecues; Kitty
and Red try to rekindle their marriage;

show, from both a critical and a casual
eye, on the universal themes and the
incredible chemistry between the stars.
In particular, he praises the harmony of
this season, as the characters are solidi-
fied and firmly bound to each other.
Aside from the insightful commen-
tary by Trainer and a collection of
humorous clips, the DVD of the third
season has little to offer. There are no
bloopers or deleted scenes to spice up
the mix, and even cast-member intro-
ductions are not enough to make up for
them. Unless the main motivation for
buying a DVD set is to have every epi-

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