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February 01, 2008 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-02-01

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, February 1, 2008 - 5

Losing y our voice
When Super Mario Bros. just can't cut it.
By Matt Emery Daily Arts Writer


This film should
'Meet' my fist as
soon as possible
Meet the Spartans
At Quality 16 and Showcase
20th Century Fox
Pop culture's in the crap-
per, and "Meet the Spartans"
is a painful reminder of that.
From the dumbasses
responsible for "Date Movie"
and "Epic Movie" comes
another send-up of the stu-
pid details we happened to
notice in movies and televi-
sion of late. Using the "300"
outline, and sprinkling as
many outside references as
possible into its 84 minute
timeframe, "Spartans" is an
argument for Ritalin.
Over-active allusions to
"Ugly Betty," "Spider-Man,"
Tyra Banks, "Transformers"
or the "Leave Britney Alone"
kid deserve irreverent scru-

tiny, because they shouldn't
dictate our viral lives. The
problem is, they aren't being
made fun of in the right way.
The film seems as if it
were written by an 8-year-
old homophobe. How many
"gay Spartan" jokes can a
person take without being
offended? We get pimple
gags, annoying celebrities
thrown in holes and count-
less hip-hop references that
just don't work. Mind you,
a few jokes do actually fly.
Brangelina getting first dibs
on Spartan babies, sight gags
of a man picking on his son
and the untouchable Nicole
Parker ("Mad TV") make
this movie almost bearable
- almost.
It should be noted that
Parker gets away from "Spar-
tans" unscathed. Mimicking
Britney, Paris, Paula Abdul
and even Ellen DeGeneres,
Parker is the only comedic
bright spot in another dis-
posable comedy.
But still.
This is terrible.

It's hard to believe it's been
four years since The Helio
Sequence released its vast-
ly underrated third album
Love and Distance.
Though it certainly wasn't the
album that finally found the band
pinning down a distinct sound, it
did reveal them as a promising,
young group.
The gem "Don't
Look Away," **
arguably one of
the best songs The Helio
of 2004, defined
the band's style Sequence
of Super MarioK
Brothers rock. KeepYour
Glitchy pops and EyesAhead
bursts of elec- SubPop
tronic bubbles
grounded the
slippery track until the sprawling,
dynamic guitar riffs took over.
Lead singer Brandon Summers's
vocals screeched through highs
and lows. It found its way onto
ski movie soundtracks. The lyr-
ics were a bit absurd, but it didn't
matter. The band couldn't be held
They were untouchable.
But Summers's vocal cords
took a hit after a rigorous tour
schedule. Presumably, it was the
reason for the length between
their last two releases. Or it could
have meant the group was taking
some time to hash out their new
sound, learning what worked for
Summers's new voice. And, well,
it's a little bit of both. The group
peppers indie-theme staples of
lost love, longing and growing
old, hashing out feelings between
bits of shoegaze, folk, Wii-pop
and lo-fi. But really, not much has
The damage to Summers's
vocals definitely shows, as does
the healing process of practicing
Dylan cuts.
He no longer gleefully strains
through tracks and generally
stays on the more reserved side
of things. But he's definitely still
listenable. Both "Shed Your Love"
and "Broken Afternoon" reflect
Summers's newfound, folky
Dylan edge. "Shed Your Love"
plays with subtle guitar picks and

saunters through a melodramatic
tone that resonates through much
of the album. "Broken Afternoon"
is almost interchangeable with
the former, but Summers sounds
more like Dylan than ever, softly
wailing through lines of "we'll all
see the light of the broken after-
The group hasn't completely
left their video-game-pop sound
behind. "Can't Say No" warms
up with a rousing Mario Broth-
ers-esque intro but throws the
poppy fun into the background
of the song as the droning shoe-
gaze takes over with Summers,
sadly, taking it easy vocally. The
song would be perfect for him to
showcase his once bubbly, grating
talent, but the track can't get past
the repetitive lines "you can't say
The video game element is nice,
but where the band is at its best,
is when it embraces the shoe-
gaze movement. "Lately" waltzes
through hollowed-out, echoey
drawls as Summers ruminates on
living without a former lover.
"Keep Your Eyes Ahead" quickens
the pace and pushes the melodra-
matic lo-fi sound with more dron-
ing vocals and chambered guitar
notes. Both remain slightly quirky
and rather addictive, though ulti-
mately, rather forgettable.
It's all an interesting combina-
tion - a more mature folk sound
mashed between some melodra-
matics and high-speed shoegaze
- but much of it is just hard to
piece together.
Are they still poking around
genres and trying to see what
clicks? Is this what they want to
do forever? It's certainly excus-
able, considering the change in
Summers's vocal style, but it's
the group dancing between poles,
rather than sticking with what's
So maybe the Hello Sequence
is a bit lost, facing circumstances
out of its control, but "Don't Look
Away" was their style. That was
the group at its best. Maybe they'll
find someway to figure that out.

To each his
own b eliefs

for the Daily
What exactly does the term
"spiritually charged" mean?
That's what "Spirit into Script,"
the latest exhibit sponsored by
the University's Institute for the
tries to con- spirit into
vey through
ally charged" Through
writings February 22
foundinAfri- Free
can, Asian,
and Middle At the Institute of
the Humanities
Eastern tra-
To Elisabeth Paymal the
exhibit's curator, the term is a
religiously conscious substitute
for "supernatural." "All these
items are spiritually charged
- they protect you, they do
bad things perhaps, most of
them here are positive." Paymal
decided to be purposely vague
in labeling the items exhibited,
for great stigma usually sur-
rounds the idea of the super-
"The word 'magic' is pretty
sensitive. Your magic is my reli-
gion," said Paymal.
Amulets and talismans line
the walls of the small display
room, promising the wearer
blessings ofeveryform.Though
their names may conjure fan-
ciful ideas usually found in
movie scripts and fairy stories,
amulets and talismans are seri-
ous business to many modern
world religions. Shamans and
rabbis write the word of God on
pieces ofwood, fabric and paper
encased in boxes or scrolls. Ele-
gant four-foot-tall rubbings are
meant to protect a home from
evil spirits. Amulets from Tibet
serve as a portable shrine to
constantly connect the owner
to the spiritual world. Rooted
in everyday religious prac-
tices, these spiritual objects
are attempts at harnessing the
power of each culture's version
of a supreme being.
Perhaps the most intrigu-
ing aspect of the exhibit is its
modern relevance. These spiri-
tual practices, ancient in their
origins, exist today throughout
the world. An African amulet
vest protects the wearer from
six unpalatable fates, includ-

ing pain in the event of horse
trampling. Though it sounds
like an ancient innovation, the
vest was created in 1995. Pre-
cisely 111 rectangles of photo-
copied sacred mantras line the
vest, which would most likely
be worn under armor or, nowa-
days, under fatigues.
Phylacteries, two small
leather boxes filled with impor-
tant verses from the Torah, are
still used by many observant
Jews in daily prayer. Also called
tefilin, this apparatus of two
boxes connectedby long leather
straps is worn on the head and
left arm. Phylacteries are the
literal interpretation of God's
command that his word be
worn on the arm and between
the eyes. Another purpose, per-
haps buried by time, is that of
a safeguard or charm against
Asian Languages and Cul-
tures Asst. Prof. James Robson
was instrumentalin the concep-
tion of "Spirit into Script." The
Institute for the Humanities
shares the South Thayer Build-
ing with the departments of
Near Eastern Studies and Asian
Languages and Cultures and
the Frankel Center for Judaic
Studies. Paymal wanted to find
a unifying theme for this spe-
cific exhibit to herald the alli-
ance. Originally drawn to the
physical beauty of calligraphy,
Paymal soon found that cal-
ligraphic techniques and pur-
poses differ substantially from
culture to culture. Robson sug-
gested focusing on the meaning
behind the text itself. Paymal
then assembled a seamless mix
of religious writings replete
with supernatural intent.
Though this exhibit focuses
mainly on the Eastern world,
Paymal assures that the theme
is universal.
"(It) doesn't mean that these
practices do not exist in the
Western traditions," said Pay-
mal, "They absolutely do."
When asked about the
modern significance of these
artifacts, Robson pointed out
everyone has objects they have
invested with power. Students
walk around campus with rab-
bit feet hanging off their bags,
good luck charms around their
necks and a bevy of beliefs of
their own.


singles at Maison Edwards and coffee at Ambrosia. Cool.

Ascending the Bossa Nova 'Summit'

DailyArts Writer
How would Sergio Assad, Brazilian guitar
virtuoso and half of the Assad Brothers guitar
duo - who have been performing in the United
States for almost 35 years - describe tonight's
"Brazilian Guitar Summit?"
"It's just a blend of nice
music," he said.
Tonight, the Assad Broth-
ers (Sergio and Odair) are pre- Guitar
senting the "Brazilian Guitar Summit
Summit," a showcase featur-
ing five stunning guitar play- Rackham
ers. "Summit" will be held in Ampitheatre,
the Rackham Amphitheatre February1st
and begin at 8 p.m. Tickets: $22-$46
Each guitarist performing
at "Summit" provides an indi-
vidually nuanced style of guitar, producing an
assorted collection of music, in the same venue.
"When (Odair and I) picked people for the
show, we wanted to get musicians far from what
we perform," Sergio said. "The only common
ground is that we all play guitar and we're from
Although the Assads are natives of Brazil, the
"Summit" signifies a return to old terrain. Both
brothers spent stints living in Ann Arbor during
their teenage years.
"We have a link with Ann Arbor that's quite
strong," Assad said. "When I come back it's like
visiting the past."
Both Sergio and Odair are classical guitarists
whoseusual repertoire consists of baroque-style
music. The duo has collaborated with cellist Yo-
Yo Ma, who is a vehement fan of their music,
for an arrangement of "Menino," one of Sdrgio's
original compositions.
Badi Assad, the duo's sister, brings a more
contemporary and unorthodox style of classical
guitar playing to "Summit." She has mastered
the art of self-accompaniment with a perfor-
mance style that fuses the classical and the
avant-garde. She plays the guitar, provides her
own vocal-percussion (think human beat-box-
ing) and sings - sometimes all at once.
"Badi is a band all on her own," Sergio said.
The music of Romero Lubambo, a jazz gui-
tarist, is a component of "Summit" that may be

So many strings, so little time.

most comparable to the music genre known as
Bossa Nova. His smooth melodies are subtle
and seductive. The infusion of jazz and samba
apparent in his arrangements are indicative of
such Brazilian music that could be said char-
acterize the Bossa Nova sound. Still, "Summit"
isn't necessarily centered on Bossa Nova music
- contrary to what one might think when the
words "Brazilian" and "guitarist" appear in the
same term.
"In America, people hear Bossa Nova and
think it's Brazilian music," Sergio said. "(The
music for "Summit") is linked with Bossa Nova,
but when we start going closer to Brazilian
musical roots, I don't think it will be so familiar
to (Bossa Nova) fans."
With "Summit," Assad hopes these varying
approaches to guitar playing will introduce the
audience to music that is, although performed
by Brazilians, different from mainstreamed
Brazilian sounds. The project works to contra-
dict assumptions one unfamiliar with world
music might have - assumptions that associate

the hyper-commercialized forms of Bossa Nova,
for instance, with "elevator music," as Assad
Multi-instrumentalist Celso Machado will
add to the Brazilian blend with a brand of gui-
tar-playing that has a distinct African sound.
His music often invokes a delicate languidness
redolent of Carribean melodies. Machado is a
necessary touch for a Brazilian guitar summit,
considering the number of genres associated
with Brazil -Samba and Lambada perhaps the
most recognizable - that are, at their origins,
The evening will culminate with all musi-
cians taking the stage for a collaboration that
promises tobe truly eclectic.
"It's music expressed by artists who have dif-
ferent backgrounds," Sergio said. "At the end of
the show, it's like we've started our own band."
A band consisting of five musicians who are
each acclaimed in their own right? "Summit"
might deserve a description a bit more poetic
than "nice."

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