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October 17, 1995 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-10-17

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- ,- -M MO N

* * .

The MichiLlan Daily -- Mnndav_ Ortnhpr 17 _ 1 44!; - 4

, *, . ,.LI I S a SiV i - wy V1,IS. tJV '../'S l ZTJU .I 1
ter viohlinisti, Mn,4S Apnt'ir '7 1 O '
Maste vioinistS u b~plays sublime set _________

r

By Nik Chawla
ror the Daily
South Indian violinist L.
ubranrraniam's flight was delayed, and
he hudience at Rackham auditorium
as getting restless in their seats. After
me hour, however, the great maestro
ppeared on stage, accompanied by
vahesh Krishnamurti on pakhawaj (a
ne-piece drum played by striking ei-
her side), and Malini Srirama on
amboura (a stringed instrument
Ilucked throughout to sound the tonic
ote of a given composition). Seated
ross-legged on the floor, as is the In-
ian ciiaom, Subramaniam went on to
escrihe.the raga he was about to play.
A..; dga literally means "that which
ol0$the mind." In the South Indian
lassicaftradition there exist seventy-two
arert scales. From the different permu-
tios? these scales a distinct musical
enerk, consisting of an ascending
d escending structure (similar to the
estofiscale), has been established in
e lobg tadition of master musicians.
In this melodic framework there ex-
t key primary notes which serve to
elineate the moods and themes of the
ga, and one can theoretically perform
given raga on any instrument or by

i a/

L Subramaniam
Rackham Auditorium
Sunday, October 15
singing. It is the task of the great
musician to use ornamentation and im-
provisation to embellish the themes of
the raga for the pleasure of the listener.
As is the tradition of most Karnatic
music recitals, Subramaniam first
played a composition in the popular
kriti form. The first section of the raga
was played solo, with no accompani-
ment. Here Subramaniam began peace-
fully, accentuating the primary notes.
Unlike western violinists, the embel-
lishment ofthe notes was accomplished
by slides of the left hand, rapidly shift-
ing from one note to another. When
shifting positions on the fingerboard,
the violin was not quite placed under
the chin, but the scroll was propped on
the knee.
The maestro's bow style was fluid, fre-
quently playing entire phrases in one bow.
The different modulations were
played on higher strings then echoed on

the lower strings, while always return-
ing to the main theme of the raga at the
end of a given phrase. In the second
section, the accompaniment entered,
and Krishnamurti had the unenviable
task of following Subramaniam's ev-
ery move.
In this section Subramaniam used
double stops and fancy off the string
playing, at times playing lightning
fast passages and stopping at a heart
beat, but at the same time the accom-
paniment could not follow his every
move.
The final piece of the program was
the raga Shree Priya. This raga con-
veys the mood of renunciation and
melancholy, which stems from the
minor sixth and seventh coupled with
a major third. In the first section, the
maestro used deep bows to convey
the dark mood of the piece, with long,
deliberate slides on the lower strings.
When it was the accompaniment's
turn to come in, Subramaniam guided
Krishnamurti with a simple improvi-
sational phrase, then went on to build
each small phrase into a large cre-
scendo, by doubling the number of
notes at each time period. The drum

also had a nice improvisational solo
in this piece, while the Maestro kept
beat by clapping the emphasized beats
and waving his hands at the unstressed
beats.
What was missing from the two ragas
performed was the dialogue, or "ques-
tion-answer" of rhythms and melodies
between violinist and drummer. This
type of give and take, which is one of
the exhilarating parts of Indian classi-
cal music, was missing in this perfor-
mance.
It was appropriate that L.
Subramaniam played a melancholic
raga on this program since his wife Viji,
also a very accomplished musician,
tragically passed away recently.
Subramaniam dedicated this perfor-
mance to her.
A true sign of being a great musician
was that aside from his technical and
improvisational prowess, the maestro
provided a feeling of unity between
audience and performer.
Audience members came to the au-
ditorium with an empty canvas, so to
speak, but clearly everyone left with a
delightfully colored painting in their
minds.

Artists

)ead Presidents Soundtrack
apitol Records
The Hughes Brothers are on it again.
his collection of legendary players
leaks for itself. Consider this album
n introductory class to the dope mu-
cof the '70s; a class that everyone
Beds to take.
Now for a quick course overview.
he album opens up with a song off
ie of the all time greatest albums in
e history of the world, Sly and The
amily Stone's "Fresh". Often an
verlooked album, Fresh is one of Sly
(ne's most expressive and musi-
giieenious efforts. It's a master-
The Godfather of Soul, James
rown, leaves his burning mark on
issoundtrack with "Payback." This
ven minute 30 second long groove
off the 1973 album "Payback," re-
Tdad with Fred Wesley and the
Super Fly, Curtis Mayfield, swag-
rs in on this joint with some serious
vanky funk, "If There's Hell
plow."Al Green, the man who will
ake you love love songs, sings the
d and soulful "Tired of Being
Track 5, enter Barry White, the man
hind the infamous and sultry voice
at is guaranteed to get any female in
: mood. And speaking of females,
ter Aretha Franklin, the woman be-
nd the strong and smooth "Do Right
oman, Do Right Man- guaran-
:d to put any man in the mood, and
his place.
Isaac Hayes makes two appearances
th "Walk On By" and "The Look of
ye". Theme are also tracks from
e Spinners, The Dramatics, and The
Jays, to name a few. Bottom line-
out, and buy this album, and learn
mething worthwhile. 'Cause ifyou
eady know, chances are you al-
ady have it.
-Kimberly Howitt

"Dead Presidents": Great movie, and a great soundtrack too.

Zen Cowboys
Electric Mistress
Moonshine Music
Deep voice, sounding as if it were
cranked through a meat grinder. That's
the very first impression on this CD.
Next you get the music, happy elec-
tric dance music which clashes inter-
estingly with the voice. You'd expect
one of those annoying high-pitched
voices, but that's not what you get.
On some other songs, the deep en-
trancing fragmented voice is less

prevalent, and those songs are not as
enjoyable. For instance, "Counter
Culture" is pretty laid back and the
vocals are lower in the mix. The song
simply doesn't work as well as the
opening track (which gives the first
impressions) "Right On."
The album's pretty up and down.
On the down sides, the singer sounds
like Morrisey, on the up sides he
sounds like Leonard Cohen. Those
are actually pretty good explanations
of the sounds; Morrisey or Leonard
Cohen as a moderate techno outfit.

&BA

And when the songs are hittin' all
four cylinders, like in the smooth
"Mad World," it's worth a little wussy
music that you can jump past.
- Ted Watts
The Tea Party
The Edges of Twilight
Chrysalis/EMI
It could be said that The Tea Party's
latest release "The Edges of Twilight"
is a valiant attempt to showcase the
usage of a 12-string guitar, bongo
drums, deep foreboding vocals, and
creepy lyrics. But in all sincerity, chiv-
alry is dead. Unless, of course, their
audience is in dire need of music to
accompany a rousing game of Dun-
geons and Dragons.
The best way to describe the odys-
sey that is The Tea Party's music is to
imagine yourself in the basement of a
dark, dank medieval church where
Ozzy Osbourne has taken it upon him-
self to serenade you. Okay, so maybe
not Ozzy's voice, but you get the
picture. Now, for the sound. The lead
singer is apparently aiming to deepen
the meaning of each and every track
simply by force of his bellowing and
haunting vocal powers. Unfortunately,
he comes off sounding like the lead
singer of the Crash Test Dummies.
Despite the image packed lyrics like
"Do you hear the souls screaming in
the serpent's mesh," this album does
not quite clear the hurdle of meaning-
ful lyrics.
As soon as the third track, "Corre-

spondences" is over, you know where
this band is heading: straight for the
Gothic/Heavy Metal Hybrid Bargain
Bin. Sure, Type O Negative has en-
joyed some success, but is it really
wise to create a new genre of Theatri-
cally Gothic But Only for a Split Sec-
ond bands? This over-the-top ap-
proach to music is a bit much to swal-
low in one listen, or even a dozen. It is
especially difficult after being ex-
posed to the sixth track, "Sister
Awake," which throws in what sounds
like a hammer dulcimer. Snake danc-
ing anyone? This Eastern sound is
completely out ofplace between tracks
that range from the Zeppelinesque
quality of "Turn the Lamp Down
Low," to the bluesy feel of "Drawing
Down the Moon." Eclectic can be
good, but not when The Tea Party
seems to need to chart a clear course
for their own journey.
The best track on "The Edges of
Twilight" could very well be "The
Badger," in which only a 12-string
guitar is used. Yes, it has a medieval
fairy tale like feel to it, but that's the
only feeling it has. No foreboding
vocals, and no pretentious story-tell-
ing lyrics like, "Eagles find the souls
they hide." What? Exactly.
- Shannon O'Neill
Steady Rollin' Bob
Margolin
My Blues and My Guitar
Alligator
Someone needs to drop a hint to Bob
Margolin's publicists. First ofall, dump
the nickname; "Steady Rollin"' sounds
more like a style of wagon-train than a
bluesman's title. Secondly, find a new
cover artist; I guess somebody thought
a Jerry Garcia look-alike posing with a
double-bass (at least it looks that way)
was better for album sales. Why make
these suggestions, you ask? Well, the
truth is, beyond all of the amateur fa-
cades, Bob Margolin can play the blues.
Margolin plays inspired, emotional
Chicago blues in the style of his mentor
Muddy Waters. Margolin was Waters'
sideman from 1973 until 1980, when he
splintered off to lead his current band.
Much of Waters influence can be heard
on "My Blues & My Guitar," especially
on the more traditional compositions
like "Movin' South," "The Same Thing"
and "Going Home." Margolin uses a
formula in which he solos cleanly over
very intense, definite beats as laid down
by drummer Chuck Cotton. In "Going
South" and "Falling Star," Margolin
gives Cotton a rest while bassist Steve
Hunt carries the rhythm with an intrigu-
ing, percussive bassline, mimicking
foot-stomping. Elsewhere on the al-
bum, Margolin departs from standard
blues, bearing witness to his other in-
fluences. Margolin utilizes a catchyjazz
melody on "Maybe the Hippies Were
Right," '50s style doo-wop vocal ac-
companiment on "Drip Drop" and
rockabilly slide-guitar on "My Old
Friend."
"My Blues & My Guitar" is worthy
of all the praise it receives. Margolin
has produced a blues album true to its

genre, while not giving into tiresome
riffs and overused covers. 'Margolin
should be admired for his commitment
to the blues legacy, and his dedication
to establishing an innovative future for
the genre. Maybe Margolin won't ever
be as great as Muddy, but no one is
going chastise him for trying. Now if
only we can get rid of that nickname...
- Brad Haywood

MNS

On the Next Level
Work/Sony Records
Ever wonder what a Boyz II Men/
Jodeci combination would sound like?
I'll tell ya-pretty much like MN8. KG,
Kule-TG-Man and Dee-Tails have pro-
duced a debut release touting both their
exquisite vocalist and harmonizing abili-
ties. And, MN8 has doneagoodjob ofnot
seeming like B II M or Jodeci ruboffs,
being less "I wannafreak you down" than
Jodeci yet more "'round da way" and less
gentlemanly than B II M. Unfortunately,
the men of MN8 are more into singing
covers than producing songs oftheir own.
But, hey, this is the '90s; everybody's
more into singing covers than producing
songs of their own.
Take "Pathway to the Moon." It is one
of the most beautiful love songs I've
heard in sometime, and except for the fact
that these guys sound faintly like Michael
Jackson singing "Heal the World," it's
perfect; the "Happy" remake is much the
same. "I've Got a Little Something for
You," is much more upbeat, and that "li'l
somethin"' ain't a handshake. The tell-
tale "Black Pearl" shows that even when
singing to a little'70s vibe, these guys still
know how to sing about some '90s lust.
The softly flowing bassline of"Baby It's
You" is a nice addition to the group's
singing. The only clear disappointment
on this LP is "Touch the Sky," MN8's
attempt to get hip hop. With disastrous
reggae rapping, pitifully forcedbeats and
unnecessarily synthesized vocals, this
song should have been scrapped from day
one.
Overall, though, "On the Next Level"
is worth a peek. Minus an obviously
stupid group name and fairly played nicks,
these four young men have done a decent
job worthy of a few props. But, if their
next CD doesn't show some marked im-
provement, likeoriginality intheirmusic,
I think it fair to say that the next level for
these guys will be the unemployment
office.
- Eugene Bowen

Tab Two

QT

A

Flagman Ahead
If it were up to me, I would rename
Tab Two's album, "Hellmut and Joo
Like Jazz." Either that, or US3, be-
cause that's what it was the first time
I heard it. Obviously, Hellmut Hattler
and Joo Kraus, the German duo better
known as Tab Two, are not musi-
cians, as evidenced in their pitiful
release "Flagman Ahead."
The entire album is made up of the
duo, two Germans with thick accents,
rapping (in English) over synthetic
drum beats and original and sampled
jazz-saxophone licks. No, there is no
variation, and no break from this
worthless spew. What baffles me is
that someone thought these guys
would be successful; laughable
maybe, but Tab Two won't see much
more success in the States than that
French toddler Jordy did (you know,
the little kid whoid burp and they'd
sample it into a dance track).
My best suggestion to the record
company who contracted these guys

--- - -'

MIL

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