Posted inArts & Culture

Four Stars

Paris is where the most ambitious Francophone African musicians go to try for international stardom, and it’s also where singers Nyboma Mwan Dido and Wuta Mayi, guitarist Syran Mbenza, and bassist Bopol Mansiamina all met in 1983 and teamed up as Les Quatres Etoiles (the Four Stars). All are outstanding Zairean soukous musicians who–after apprenticing […]

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5 X No; Saajury

5 X NO Next Theatre Company SAAJURY Doorika No author in the secular 20th century has reflected romanticism’s morbid preoccupation with death more strongly than the late Yukio Mishima, whose obsession with erotic violence (he once had a photograph taken of himself posed as Saint Sebastian at the moment of martyrdom) and with the past […]

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Pavement

Too much has already been written about Pavement, of course, those smart-aleck popsters with a penchant for carefully framed obscurity, splotches of noise, and monster hooks that they’re hesitant to expose. In the late 80s the duo of Steve Malkmus and Spiral Stairs blurted out largely structureless nascent pop tunes smothered in lo-fi transistor noise, […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Hanging at the Gallery

When my roommate Harald went back to Germany I stopped going to the Gallery so much. It had been his find and his hangout, and he had reveled in it. “It’s…it’s ze Gallery!” he would crow, basking in the triumph of discovery each time the place revealed some new quirk. He’d had to coax and […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Ryan Schultz Quartet

Mere mention of the bass trumpet will usually stop a perfectly good discussion in its tracks, if only because so many people otherwise schooled in music have never heard–or even heard of–this odd cross between trumpet and trombone. In fact, most listeners mistake its throaty, polished sound for that of a trombone with valves (itself […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Reader to Reader

I was looking for an open window at a Loop post office recently when I found myself competing for a spot in line with an elderly gentleman in a tan overcoat. We looked at each other, and then at the lady already buying some stamps from the clerk at Window 18. The man smiled at […]

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Underground Routes

A FIELD GATHERING Hedwig Dances Performance Company at the Dance Center of Columbia College, April 21-23 Another critic once said to me that she thought dance was deeply conservative. I think I know what she meant–that dance doesn’t challenge cultural expectations. And it also sometimes simply looks stodgy. After all, unlike rock ‘n’ roll and […]

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An Agnostic’s Hell

AN AGNOSTIC’S HELL at Link’s Hall, through May 1 The first thing to notice about Vincent Balestri’s work in An Agnostic’s Hell is its unassuming simplicity. The stage has the sparse, functional, yet comfortable feel of a bachelor’s apartment. Two black sheets are spread out on either side of the stage. On one is a […]

Posted inMusic

Shonen Knife

It may well be that here in the West, we’ve all grown so resigned to living in a decadent society that we’ve just gone numb. But hopefully we still retain a vestigial third ear that enables us to hear the sounds of genuine, unalloyed joy—sounds we’re no longer so good at producing ourselves, but that […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Sports Section

Following the pro basketball season is sort of like watching a spring bulb flower. After things are planted in the fall there is a long, cold, dreary time in which nothing much seems to happen. It’s important only for how it alters the chemistry of the bulb. While NBA teams, of course, try to win […]

Posted inMusic

3Ds

In their native New Zealand the 3Ds are the subject of many stories; my favorite involves a batch of homebrew that guitarist David Mitchell once made for an Xpressway Records party. He insisted on spiking it with golden raisins, which ended up bobbing on top of the beer and puffing up so big the nonplussed […]

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Homesick James, Lovie Lee

Homesick James played alongside the legendary Elmore James for years; his musical roots extend deep into the Delta, maybe even deeper than Elmore’s. He sings with a high-pitched, quavering intensity that recalls old-time field hollers, and even on electric guitar his slide patterns often have the pure-toned starkness of traditional southern acoustic blues. But don’t […]

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Sparkill Ave!

Robert Breer has been making animated films for 40 years. His films are all short and unpretentious, their subjects mostly drawn from daily life, and they have none of the cuteness of much prizewinning animation. Nevertheless they offer pleasures as intense as any work of art can. His latest, Sparkill Ave!, combines still photos of […]