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June 21, 2004 - Image 9

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2004-06-21

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michigandaily.com/arts R T S

MONDAY
JUNE 21, 2004

WILCO HAUNTED BY THIN GHOST

RC Players inhabit Arb

By Alex Wolsky
Daily Arts Writer

The metamorphosis of Wilco, and
especially auter Jeff Tweedy, is mostly
unprecedented.,,
With a constantly Wilcol
evolving sound and
a lyricist growing A Ghost IS
with every track, Born
they've proven to Nonesuch
Obe one of the most
vital bands of the last 10 years. A Ghost
is Born again finds Tweedy tweaking
Wilco's sound, scraping away the sonic
blur of 2002's epic Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
What results is an organic record that
proves, above all, that Wilco is human.
Similar to Foxtrot, the experimental-
ism on Ghost is buried within the
recesses of the album's standout tracks.
"Spiders (Kidsmoke)" swings back and
forth between pre-programmed electron-
ic beats to full band cathartics, a balanc-
ing act that showcases Tweedy's skill as
a lead guitarist. The subtle build of the
closer, "Less than You Think," draws
attention toward Wilco's ability to craft a
hybrid of ambient and country music. To
their credit, the songs on Ghost never
suffer from over-production or willful
contrivance. Wilco merely dares you to
blink before hitting you with the hardest
rock they've done in years.
What's left isn't maudlin melodicism,
but it is as close as the band has ever
come to being overtly poppy. Stripped of

meaning in metaphors made even the
simplest song appear complex. Ghost is
a record steeped in uncertainty and
scorn. "His goal in life was to be an
echo," Tweedy sings in "Hummingbird,"
an elegantly melodic song with instru-
mentation reminiscent of late producer
George Martin. Later, he croons: "Rid-
ing alone / town after town / toll after
toll / a fixed bayonet / through the great
Southwest to forget her." Tweedy spends
the entirety of Ghost rudderless and
powerless, searching for a rock identity
in a world beyond his control.
The most immediate drawback of
Ghost is its almost non-existent produc-
tion value. The buoyant "Handshake
Drugs" first featured last year as part of
an online-only EP, is included on Ghost,
but the mix is different, virtually elimi-
nating Tweedy's guitar in favor of Jim
O'Rourke's ambient filler. A straight
comparison of the two tracks exposes
Ghost's flaw: flat, underwhelming pro-
duction. Where Foxtrot was filled with
more ebbs and flows than Norway, the
songs on Ghost are what they are: one
dimensional and hastily thrown together.
Maybe Wilco is just allowing their
newer fans to catch up. In many
respects, the success and overall pre-
dominance of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot over
the past two years has elevated Wilco's
standards beyond that of their reach.
And where Foxtrot had a myth and leg-
end to fall back on, A Ghost is Born is
left to its own devices - stripped down
to it's bare bones and merely clawing at
the band's best work.

By Sarah Peterson
Daily Arts Writer

He's a wheel.
the emotional resonance so many tracks
on Foxtrot possessed, tracks like "Hum-
mingbird," "Muzzle of Bees" and
"Wishful Thinking" are tuneful and
charming. Even when Tweedy's over-
sentimental side works ("The Late
Greats"), it's all but spoiled by the seven
minutes of droning that precede it. Con-
versely, the divisively harmonic "The-
ologians" rides a steady piano
progression into a wave of over-ampli-
fied guitars as Tweedy calmly declares
"I'm an ocean / An abyss in motion."
The strongest suit of Foxtrot was
Tweedy's ability to craft a song so lyri-
cally dense, no two people would inter-
pret it the same way. His ability to cloak

"All the world's a stage / And all
the men and women merely players."
This quote,
taken from As You Like
Shakespeare's It
comedy "As You
Like It," perfect- Thursday - Saturday
ly describes the at6:30 p.m.
idea behind the $10 Students
Residential Col- $15 General Public
lege Players' lat- In the Arboretum
est production.
As the story is set primarily in the
fictional forest of Arden, this produc-
tion is set in the Nichols Arboretum.
The Players use many different loca-
tions within the Arb, proving that the
whole world is truly their stage.
The natural backdrop of the
Arboretum is the ideal venue in
which to perform "As You Like It," a
comedic tale of betrayal, disguise,
cross dressing and ultimately love.
By performing the play outside, the
audience is drawn into the story as
they walk from scene to scene, fol-
lowing and joining in on the action.
When leading man Orlando (Max
Berry) proclaims that he is going to
cover the woods in love poems for his
sweet Rosalind, the audience gets the
chance to follow in his footsteps and
encounter those very poems.

Also adding to the realism of
the production were the musicians
who lead the audience from scene
to scene. The musicians act as
guides but also join the scenes at
the appropriate times, offering
music and interacting with the
other characters as wandering
bards of the day might do.
Rounding out the production as a
whole were the individual perform-
ances of the actors, who all demon-
strated a talent for speaking the
language. Through the body move-
ments and facial expressions of each,
the actors brilliantly portray Shake-
spreare's unique dialect. In particu-
lar, Rosalind (Carol Gray), who
portrays a woman in male garb try-
ing to conceal her undying love for a
man who does not know she is actu-
ally a woman, uses these silent cues
to convey what she is thinking and
feeling.
"Everytime you do (the play) it is
different. The energy is different, the
temperature is different, even the
bugs are different," said Director
Kate Mendeloff. "The play is about
the pastoral and the pastoral illusion."
As such, there seems no better place
to perform it than in the natural beau-
ty of the Arboretum.
'As You Like It" begins at 6:30
p.m. and tickets go on sale at5:30
p.m. Early arrival is recommended,
as tickets tend to sell out quickly.

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