REVIEW: GAH-muh-lan

There’s nothing better than relieving all your anger and frustration on a gong. The resounding noise fills the room as you wail on that thing with all you’ve got. It’s incredibly satisfying. If you are like me and lack the proper funds for Javanese instruments, you probably don’t have one lying around. That’s why it’s good to stay informed about music events, especially Gamelan ones.

I walked in on the music co-op’s (MCEQ) event tonight with guest-speaker, Susan Walton, an RC professor who teaches about Indonesian music and dance. It was a little awkward at first, seeing as I’m not actually a member of MCEQ; however, with my camera and notepad, I felt somewhat dignified for being there. The tiny stage was littered with various red and gold painted instruments while Walton began with a brief introduction. She explained that Gamelan refers to an ensemble of Indonesian instruments. The Gamelan we were playing tonight was from central Java, an island off of Indonesia (hence, Javanese). She warned us that the instruments within the Gamelan are believed to be alive and, therefore, cannot be stepped over in fear of getting bitten (which is true because, as she related, she stepped over one before and got so badly bitten, she ended up in the ER).

Once the instruments were in organized disarray, she gestured for us to take our places on pillows, bare-footed, in allotted positions. She gave us simplistic melodies to mimic, numbering the notes accordingly. We repeated on our instruments, and actually managed to stay synchronized enough to create a decent sound. It reminded me of that music you hear that sounds, well, “asian,” but you can’t quite put your finger on where or why it sounds like that (or what that even means). It was incredibly awesome. Once we got good at our little tune, Walton came in on the drum, improvising with rhythmic syncopations. Just when I feared my arms were going to fall off from holding up the gong, she signaled the final refrain by changing up the rhythm on the drum. Dramatic pause, then I finished the song as instructed with a final gooooonnggg (she unfortunately failed to inform me in advance that it was supposed to be “much quieter.” My arm is still sore from how hard I hit that thing…).

It was truly a spectacular event hosted by music co-op and led by us, under the instruction of Susan Walton. I’m so glad I came and I’m excited to hear what other great events music co-op has in store. And, who knows, maybe I’ll even sign up for Walton’s one credit Javanese music class next semester!

Review: Creation. Life. Legacy.

Metallic industrial, organic robotic, digital bug, fluttering verbs.

Form can sometimes be constricting, only allowing for certain expressions while disallowing others. While watching Merce Cunnigham Dance Company perform, I could not align what I was watching with any concrete words. How to translate a dance performance into a concise review seemed like a daunting task, but alas, I will do my best.

Merce Cunningham
Merce Cunningham

For those of you unfamiliar, Merce Cunningham is one of the most innovative choreographers of the last century. Spanning across genre and discipline, Merce Cunningham is perhaps most known for his longtime collaboration with partner and radical composer, John Cage, also working with fellow artistic visionaries such as Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein, and Warhol. The Legacy Tour honors Cunningham, who passed away in July 2009, as well as his 70 years of expansive work. Culminating in 2011 with the disbanding of the company, this is the last time his work will ever be performed and UMS was one of the lucky few locations to host the Company. (Check out this Merce Cunningham Interview)

The curtain was up before I had time to anticipate what was hiding behind it. Blinding spotlights on impossible elevation of cinderblock walls. Large green recycling bins and containers, exposed with sheet metal and wooden planks. As anyone’s guess, this was the natural look of the Power Center. My attention was drawn to an acrylic white court surrounded by luminescent astroturf as 4 dancers in steely athletic wear arched across space, while many others watched in the background.

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It is time my friends, it is time to support the glory of the Midwest, and the uncanny ability for unique movement and visions to arise out of what outsiders only recognize as barren land.  My goal is to help bring to light the many wonderful things that happen here in little Ann Arbor and if you scroll down this page, you will see an opportune variety not afforded by many other places.

Ghostly International, a phenomenal record label started in Ann Arbor by U of M alum, Samuel Valenti IV, will be hosting a belated 10 year anniversary this Monday.  Founded in 1999, Ghostly evades definition, instead becoming a community for music lovers and innovators alike, that is redefining the way we think of a record label in the digital age.

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Preview: The Gender Bender Revue is Finally Here!

And excitingly queer! I’ve heard about this event since the beginning of the year and have been waiting with desperate patience for its arrival. And here it is J. The Gender Bender Revue is a gender performance variety show; a talent show based on gender expression and sexual orientation. There will be drag kings and queens, acoustic renderings of pop songs, lip-syncs, and other performances all on a fantastic stage in possibly the best club in Michigan, Necto Nightclub! (You must be 18 years or older to enter and have a valid photo ID. Guests under 21 years of age are not permitted to buy, accept, or drink alcohol of any kind at any time.)

This event is always a big hit in Ann Arbor and on campus. The Facebook event already has 83 confirmed guests! FACEBOOK GROUP The tickets are cheap (only $5!) and they get you into Necto for the night, free food, half off drink specials (only for people 21 years and older!!) and this fantastic show!

There will also be a raffle so don’t forget extra money if you have it! All proceeds from the show will be donated to the LGBT scholarships at the University of Michigan. You can purchase tickets at the Spectrum Center or from any of the Stonewall Democrats (who are putting on the event). You can email them at GBR2010@UMICH.EDU. Tickets will also be available at the door.

Once last thing, which I need to tell you before I sign off, the day and time. I can’t believe I almost forgot! The 4th Annual Gender Bender Revue is this Friday, March 27th from 6:30 to 9:00pm. Just to sum up…

What: 4th Annual Gender Bender Revue!!
Where: Necto Nightclub, 516 East Liberty
When: Friday, March 26, 2010, 6:30pm – 9:00pm
How Much: $5 tickets purchased at Spectrum Center, at the Door, or from Stonewall Dems

As Always,
This is Danny Fob: Artist and Art Reviewer

Preview: “Collapsing Borders—Einstürzende Grenzen.”

Sometimes, all the good stuff come at the same time. This week is one such week where there are  just so many great events to choose from. One  great event is the “Collapsing Borders—Einstürzende Grenzen” on Fri, Nov 20, 2009 between 6-8.30 pm.

This is a live digital audio-video jam session with Markus Guentner (from Regensburg, Germany) and nospectacle (Detroit- Ann Arbor, USA) at the Video and Performance Studio, Duderstadt Center, 2281 Bonisteel Blvd.

Guentner, hailed as “the inventor of pop ambient”, is a dj as well and is known for his work on Cologne’s Kompart record label.  Here’s a sample of Guentner’s music.

nospectacle is based right here in Detroit. The group is made up of  Christopher McNamara (who teaches at the U of M’s Dept of Screen arts and Cultures), Jennifer A. Paull, and Walter Wasacz and is an electronic music, video and DJ project.They play mostly McNamara’s original compositions.They performed  a set of music to Andy Warhol’s multimedia experience at the Cranbrook Art Museum.Here’s a link on youtube.

Both the artists are known for melding sound, art and visuals. As per the program flyer, “The point of focus is to show how art and entertainment technologies play a crucial role in transcending political, cultural, and psychological borders.”

This free event is followed by an after-party, 9 p.m. – 2 a.m. at Sava’s (in the space once occupied by Zanzibar), 216 S. State St., Ann Arbor. Called Sonic Subliminal, the dance-friendly event features DJ sets by Guentner, nospectacle and Forest Juziuk of Dark Matter. $5 for the party.

Hmm…electronic music and a dance party on a friday night after a hectic week full of studying appeals to me immensely. You ready to party too?

Krithika, for [art]seen