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June 10, 1992 - Image 12

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1992-06-10

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12 - The Michigan Daily Summer Weekly - Wednesday, June 10,1992
kroncong is augmented by the addition
ECORDS of electric Hawaiian guitar in twoof the
Continued from page 7 ensembles recorded.
during specialoccasions.'This CD con- Returning to more traditionalroots,
tains the late night section of the Volume three documents gambang
gandrung Banyuwangi,SeblangSubuh. kromong music played in the rural out-
The other parts of the dance are per- skirts of Jakarta, megalopolis and capi-
formedby the femaledancer(gandrung) talofIndonesia.Lagulamais the older,
and a male partner from the audience; now rare, and wholly acoustic reper-
however,whenallthemenaretired,the toireofgambangkromong,whichbeau-
gandrung dances Seblang Subah alone tifully blends some Indian and Chinese
tokeepthepartygoing.Gandrung Temu musicalelements.Thelagusayurdomi-
is one of the finest living singers of the natescontemporaaygambangkromong,
music. She demonstrates incredible combiningIndonesianmusic with west-
control and facility, sliding between emfolk idioms and 1920s jazz pattern-
notes in sympathy with the two biola ings. As with kroncong, Hawaiian steel
(violin)andfollowing thevarying tempo guitar surprisingly appears in some of
of the kluncing (drums) and gongs. the lagu sayur ensembles. The horn
Despiteitsmenacingcover photoof melodies seem to be eerily familiar
dangdutsuperstar RhomaIramacladin renditions of New Orleans jazz tunes
black leather and platform boots, Vol- that would make both Sidney Bechet
ume two contains subtly energetic and and Albert Ayler raise their eyebrows.
not unfamiliar sounding Indonesian Although it is nearly impossible to en-
popular music. The CD contrasts two compass all of the Indonesia's musical
differing forms of widespread, "na- diversity, theserecordings do atremen-
tional" Indonesian pop: dangdut. and dous job of embracing traditional and
kroncong. Although both originally modern melodies as well as dominant
developed in similar underclasses, and overshadowed idioms.
kronconghasdivergedfromitsroots to - Chris Wyrod
become a music of the elite; however,
neither one is as heavily permeated by Senator Flux
western idioms as the third national Storyknife
pop, pop Indonesia. Emergo
Dangdut is a dance music popular SenatorFluxis the kind of band that
with lower and lower-middle class gets (relatively) lots of press for being
Muslim youths, mixing Indian film underrated and unheard of. Keep in
music, Middle-Easternpop, and 1970s mind that once one "journalist" finds a
western rock. Its lyrics often carry band he hasn't heard of, it becomes
political overtones of social protest, some great new discovery, the pack
conveying the sentiments of the lower mentality sets in, and before you know
class. Originating from Portuguese it, the air is thick with hyperbole and the
songs and instrumentation, kroncong "An-" prefix.
began as an urban folk music. It wid- This aside, Senator Flux is highly
ened into a principal entertainment underratedandunheardof.Gettinglittle
music after the 1920sandsubsequently attention, especially in this area (de-
took on a revolutionary tone with the spitereluctantspokesmanDavidLevine
expulsion of the Dutch from Indonesia having attended the University a few
in 1940s.Modemkroncong ensembles summers ago), the band has consis-
contain a vocalist, violin, flute, rhythm tently created pleasing and unique mu-
guitar,cello,bass,andtwosmallplucked sic for the past six years.
lutes. The sweet flowing sound of Boththeirintelligentlyricsandcom-

plex music rank them amongst the top previousandstunning album, The Crimi-
bands of recent memory. It's a shame nal Special. The Flux have an amazing
they're brushed aside and pigeonholed knack fortaking grunge,punk,pop,and
into the corners of the "indie bins," the psychedelia and carefully mixing them
evil creation of the musical-military- into a heady brew of sound.
industrial complex headed by G. Gor- Levine's wildly careening voice
don Liddy and Vanilla Ice. provides the perfect contrast to Jeff
The latest Senator Flux creation, Turner's smooth, beautifulvocals, both
Storyknife,isaworthysuccessortotheir indifferentsongs, andespecially when

they sing together. In "Godwash," he
harmonies and chorus are stunning, as
well as the dissonance created by sing-
ing differentlyrics simultaneously."On
ALimb"isanotherexampleofthehigh
vocal abilities of Senator Flux.
Pounding drums and bass, and a
mixture of rough and melodic guitars,
giveStoryknifeadriving, cohesive feel.
The complexwebofjangle andgrunge
remains accessible, and the Senators
find themselves at home being called
pop. In fact, it's a pleasure to call this
pop, as this brings back more positive
meaning to the word.
The album's lyrics are superb.
Levine's poetic leanings truly shine.
He has an impressive command of syn-
tax and vocabulary which manages to
shed the dusty, technical connotations
of these terms so that the lyrics sound
natural and just plain good.
Storyknfeconcludes with "Univer-
sal Solvent," perhaps the best song of
the album. A mesmerizing chord pro-
gression, fitted with a wonderful cas-
cade ofguitars at the end,meshesnicely
with Turner's full voice. Contrast is
provided by Levine's rabid pace, his
typically thoughtful lyrics, and darker,
rougher guitars.
Storyknfe issuchanamazingrecord
that the only, smallest fault that can be
found is in packaging. After the
beautiful collage on the front of The
Criminal Special, which also included
a 16-page comic book with the CD,
anything might be considered a let-
down. But the bright yellow and pink
coverofStoryknhfe couldevenbe called
cheesy by harsher critics, and the liner
notes are quite sparse. In its favor, the
jacket does contain an excellent poem
by David Levine.
The unheraldedexcellenceofSena-
tor Flux is a good example of why
bashing the big commercial record gi-
ants is sometimes justified, as well as
being oh-so-trendy. Hey, record com-
panies andmusiccritics: aband doesn't
have to promote itself as a commodity
to be bought and sold over the cre-
atively bankrupt airwaves of MTV to
make good music. Stop watching and
reading each other, and open your ears.
What you'll find is alot of great music
While you're doing that, I'll get offmy
soapbox so I can check out the latest
copy of Spin - where else am I going
to find these unheard of bands?
- Jeremy Lhtzin
ANGELS
Continued from page 6
eachcharacter-though Miss Abbott's
position is somewhat unclear at the
beginning of Angels - focusing on
faces and actions as mirrorsof the soul.
By the end, though, if you can appreci-
ate its pace, Where Angels Fear to
Tread satisfies the need for an
Edwardian fix.
WhereAngelsFeartoTreadisshow-
ing at the Michigan Theater through
tomorrow.
-Annette Petruso
FOR THE BEST
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