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October 05, 2007 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-10-05

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, October 5, 2007 - 5A

Dark kMagik'
By Matt Roney ( Daily Arts Writer

No irony, little talent, concise marketing.

A denial of the faith
with generic emo

bandon hope, all ye who enter
here. Boss is not a happy listen.
The first official LP from noise
rockers Magik Mark-
ers - also known as
Elsa Ambrogio and
Pete Nolan - is a hell- Magik
ish, thundering work.
Though Boss takes the Markers
noisy, freestyle conceit
ofthe Markers's impres- Boss
sive body of indepen- Ecstatic Peace
dently released CD-Rs
and distills it into those
slightly more digestible chunks called
"songs," the record remains a sprawl-
ing, discordant study of entropy, decay
and sin - Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of
Earthly Delights disguised as a No Wave
"Axis Mundi" - Latin for "world axis,"
the connection between the realms of
earth and sky - opens with a lone guitar,
shrieking with nails-on-a-chalkboard
feedback and scraping flange. By the
time the noise breaks into a psychedelic,
groovy bass line, your sense of security
lies in tatters. Anything can happen here.
Ambrogio keeps to a tight range of notes,
moaning her vocals from a detached,

glassy-eyed trance. Her lyrics are car-
nal and paranoid, obtuse yet bursting
with evocative imagery - "I left my stink
like a mink's dead gland / All over your
mouth, all over your hand." They give
the impression of barely-spotted flames
through a haze of black smoke. Eventual-
ly the melody succumbs to the noise, only
to return as if from burning wreckage.
"Body Rot," a burst of low-fi fury that
sounds like Minor Threat covering for
early Pavement, leads us straight into
"Last of the Lemach Line," a nine-min-
ute symphony of feedback, loosely rhyth-
mic drum fills and ululating lead guitar.
Boss's lyrical preoccupation with vague-
ly biblical, subversively blasphemous
imagery gives "Lemach Line" a ghostly,
threatening feel: "I am the secular Pen-
tecost / Squeezing out the blue snake. /
I never count what I lost, / Only what I
take." This sort of thing appears again in
"Four/The Ballad of Harry Angstrom," a
relentless dirge of percussive piano and
sparse drums. Ambrogio names a "secu-
lar nobility" and admonishes us to "fear
him, he is the one who should be feared,"
while lamenting that "love gives way to
avarice." When - a bit over two minutes
in - alow-in-the-mix din of barely-heard

voices begins, try not to run screaming
from the room.
A reprieve is granted on the fourth
track, "Empty Bottles," where Nolan
takes to the piano and Ambrogio vocally
channels Meg White. It's a surprisingly
benign and contemplative song, even uti-
lizing a glockenspiel that sounds some-
thing like a child's plastic toy xylophone.
But all is not right here, as dissonant
chords occasionally interrupt the tran-
quility. We're not out of the woods yet.
Though you may be hard-pressed to
discern what exactly is going on, Boss
certainly feels like a concept album. It's
meticulously paced, using "Empty Bot-
tles" as a center point. It pulls you in and
shatters your preconceptions, then lets
you down gently and tears you rightback
up again, ending on a musical cliffhang-
er. Album closer "Circles," - a track that
writhes with distorted, sustained wails
and yelps -ends without catharsis as you
dangle as if over apit.
There is little chance you'll adopt Boss
as the soundtrack for your next road trip
or drop it at a party. But if you're willing
to take the plunge, you'll find a reward-
ing and fascinating album - just don't
expect to be comforted.

Daily Arts Writer
Christian rock denial progresses in
several stages, beginning with the blunt
rebuff ("We're not
Christian; we just sing
aboutJesus") andend-
ing with the blatant
sellout ("We loved Luna Halo
Jesus once, but now Luna Halo
we sing about strip-
pers"). Luna Halo's Columbia
Christian rock denial
has already passed
both of these stages and has evolved
into amore sophisticated form: rejection
through emo.
Originally signed to Christian music
label Sparrow Records, Luna Halo's first
full-length album, Shimmer, received an
almost-perfect rating from the Christian
music review site jesusfreakhideout.
com (seriously, real Web address). The
website originally praised Luna Halo
for being an "answer to prayers for good,
new solid artists," but now the site's
description of the band contains a bright
red disclaimer fenced in by gratuitous
"read me" asterisks: "The band has been
exercising behavior ... that will likely
offend fans (of) ... 'Christian music' ...
Discretion is advised."
A simple Google Image Search will tell
you the rest. Emo mullets abound. Mas-
cara flows from the musicians' eyes. The
cover art depicts a hemorrhaging heart
crowned with a halo. Popping the album
into the stereo, it's exactly the same
story. "You grow your hair to hide your

face," the lead singer laments in "The Big
Escape." He sings about "pills," rhyming,
"and I love it but I hate it" in "Medicate."
He even says "damn" in "Fool," which
is probably what caused the website's
urgent warning.
Musically, the band is neatly pack-
aged and readyto go for a day in the mall
with its 14-year-old target audience. It's
equipped with slick production, massive
guitars,three-noteguitarsolos andener-
getic-but-unoriginal rhythms. The lead
singer has a vocal range that spans from
low nasal to high screechingnasal, and a
habit of adding a "C'mon!" or two when
there's nothing better to say ("C'mon!
C'mon! I think you're so special!" the
singer screams in the chorus of "Kings &
Queens"). He obviously feels obliged to
say something, or elsethe album wouldn't
contain lyrics like "you were made from
alien hands" or "your tongue is where
your heart should be."
Despite these observations, there is
sellable quality to the music. The music
is tolerable and even catchy when you're
not paying attention to it (listening while
jogging, for example). The band knows
how to write audibly pleasing guitar
parts, and when all you need is noise
to keep your mind minimally engaged,
Luna's album works for the most part.
The album's generic brand of gloomi-
ness feeds its hungry emo-conscious
consumers (and there are a lot of them
- the band's MySpace page has 14,000
friends and counting). Luna Halo hasn't
made its mark onthe music industry, and
its tunes are utterly indistinguishable
from the next mascara band.

'Evening' full of great
sketch comedy
"Evening of Scenes"
Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.
At East Quad Auditorium
The RC Players' presentation of
"Evening of Scenes," on stage tonight
and Saturday night at 8 pm in the RC
Auditorium, has seven student direc-
tors. Few of these directors are affili-
ated with the Residential College. But
they had a desire to direct and a smart,
funny, 10-minute script, so the RC
gave them a shot at the stage.
Every semester would-be directors
submit original or adapted works to
the*RC board for inclusion in "Scenes."
The auditions are open to any and
Part of the charm of "Scenes" is dis-
covering that the guy from your chem-
istry class has perfect comic timing.
But the spirit of equal access theater
isn't only reserved for the production's
50 cast and crewmembers, it extends
to the audience as well: performances
are free of charge.
This semester, audiences can expect
scenes ranging from a Monty Python
adaptation, to an original work detail-
ing (what else?) college life.
LSA junior Tracey Rosen, one of
two producers of the show, summed it
up. "All the scenes are funny; together
they make the show strong. Anyone
who comes to see them will have a
good time."

will.i.am goes at
it alone, falls flat

Daily Arts Writer
Eminem pulled off a truly solo
album, releasing some of the best
rap albums of the last decade
with little to no help. Jay-Z can
pull it off. Nas can pull it off. But
Not so much.
the Black Eyed
Peas frontman William
and the pro-
ducer behind Songs About
recent hits Girls
from diverse A
artists like Jus- A&M
tin Timberlake
and The Game, decided to go
similarly solo - in the most lit-
eral sense of the word - for his
major label debut. There's only
one guest spot on his SongsAbout
Girls. But that choice is just one
of its many flaws.
It's really unfortunate that
will.i.am thinks so highly of his
lyricism because his real tal-
ent is as a producer. But where
Kanye West was wise enough to
save some hot tracks for himself
on his solo releases, Will gave
all his good beats away. He tries
for an electro-pop sound, but the

results are mostly flat.
The main problem is the repet-
itiveness. The first 10 seconds on
most of the tracks sound prom-
ising, but rarely build into any-
thing outstanding (the somber
strings on "She's a Star" open the
song nicely, but bore after a few
loops, especially when backed
by weak drums). There are a lot
of guitars and funky synths, but
they're redundant (check out
"Fly Girl," made worse by will's
attempt at actual rapping). Don't
be surprised if two or three songs
play in succession and you think
you're listening to one really long
While the weak production
comes as a surprise, will.i.am's
vocal performances are nothing
unexpected - they're just not
that good. He's never been a par-
ticularly talented rapper or sing-
er, just good enough to get by.
His content is also what you'd
anticipate, given the album's
title. Will provides songs about
girls: break-up songs, apprecia-
tion songs (mostly will displaying
his affection for the female body),
stripper songs and even a song
about possibly the most powerful
girl of all, Mother Nature.
The only song likely to get

The man should be behind the mixer, not the mic.

radio play is "I Got It from My
Mama," the twin brother of Peas'
hit "My Humps," in which will
explains that "If the girl real fine
/ Nine times out of 10 / She fine
R The wise know
when to spread
the mic around.
just like her mama." Profound.
The organic drums and club-
friendly synths make it an instant

hit while the repetitive, catchy
chorus will be stuck in your head
before you make it to the album's
next track.
Following suit, there's "The
Donque Song," the only track
with a guest appearance. But
even the prolific Snoop Dogg
can't save this one, although he
does cleverly begin his verse
with "S-n-double o-p, that's me
/ Chillin' with my nephew, will.
he.be." But the rest of Snoop's
lines are recycled from his verse
on "Gin & Juice," only with
slightly different words, which
gives you an idea of the kind of
effort Snoop put into penning
the verse.

When will tries to get deep,
as he does on "S.O.S. (Mother
Nature)," much of the meaning -
the environment is slowly dying
due to global warming, and we're
just sitting back and watching -
gets lost in some of will's ridicu-
lous lines: "When an Eskimo gets
bit by a mosquito / Somebody in
Miami will get swept by a tsu-
This solo project will by no
means end will.i.am's career as
a producer. Big-time artists will
continue to collaborate with him,
as there's no denying he knows
he knows how to produce a hit.
It's too bad he doesn't know how
to inake one for himself.

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