Author Archives | cciupak19

The Scene: Panopticon presents a unique blend of sounds

Despite a brief respite last weekend, it appears that winter is indeed here. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, for winter is perhaps the greatest season of them all for musical introspection. Trapped inside increasingly small rooms, facing painful temperatures outside, the soul opens to the magic of music. To celebrate this turn of the seasons, we’re taking a look at a true masterpiece of winter music, Panopticon’s 2017 double album, “The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness.” This extraordinary piece is one disc of superb ambient black metal, followed by a selection of outstanding bluegrass folk. 

Panopticon is a one-man project composed of Austin Lunn, a Kentucky native now living in the woods of Northern Minnesota. True to his roots, Lunn incorporates strings, accordion, banjo and other elements of gentle bluegrass into an otherwise harsh sound. Austin Lunn indeed looks the part of a black metal artist. A stocky, bearded man with sleeves of tattoos, long blond hair and the requisite metalhead denim vest, many may find him intimidating. Yet his liner notes to the album, described as “manifesto-like” by Metal Injection, reveal a different side: a lifelong lover of nature despondent at its loss, an introspective student of Anarchism and a father fearful of the world his young daughter will inherit. These are the themes that are considered on the album. 

“The Scars of Man” opens with the sounds of a crackling fire, soon joined by whirring accordions and gentle acoustic guitar. The opening track, “Watch the Lights Fade,” provides a calm and melancholy start, ending on the mournful call of an owl. Lunn has entertained you by his fireside, but in the next track, the stellar “En Hvit Ravns Dod” [“A White Raven’s Death” in Norwegian], he pushes the listener out the door into a wild Minnesota blizzard. It is on the heavier metal tracks where Lunn’s instrumental skills truly shine. The album’s fourth track, “Sheep in Wolves Clothing,” showcases the true musicianship on display. For Austin Lunn is many things, but he is first and foremost an absolute monster on a drum kit. He displays truly exceptional skill throughout the album, but it is on “Wolves” that he ascends to jaw-dropping levels. Hammering away at three hundred beats per minute, Lunn matches the feats of genre legends like 1349’s Frost or Inferno of Behemoth.  

After an hour of assault, Lunn takes a turn to a calmer, but no less bleak section of the forest. The second part of “Scars of Man” is a collection of bluegrass tunes, alternately raw and gentle. “Moss Beneath the Snow” acts as a bridge between the two styles, a 12 minute epic of despondency, with Lunn rhetorically asking the listener “how many more glorious winters will we survive?” From then on, Lunn trades in his black-metal shrieks for a soulful whiskey-and-cigarettes baritone, mumbling lyrics of nature, despair and deaths along icy highways and in cold concrete rooms. Standout tracks include “The Wandering Ghost,” the story of working-class America told through a parable of a lonely ghost and “The Itch,” a song directed at Donald Trump, whom Lunn takes to task for “lending credence to every bigot in this country.”

“The Scars of Man” is a masterpiece of bitter melancholy.  It asks difficult questions about man’s identity, the destruction of the natural world and the future.  At two hours of icy despair, it is far from easy listening, but easy listening is not the correct choice for cold winter nights.

Ben McKone, a Contributing Writer  for the Voice, can be reached for comment at BMcKone19@wooster.edu.

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Multicultural organizations share their perspectives at panel

Desi LaPoole

Features Editor

Last Tuesday, Nov. 27, Bodies of Diversity (BoD), formerly known as Brothers of Diversity, hosted this year’s Multicultural Student Organization Panel, in which 13 of the College’s multicultural organizations, including African Students Union (ASU), South Asian Committee (SAC) and the International Student Association (ISA), joined together to express the hopes, concerns and goals of their organizations. These organizations, along with others, shared their perspectives on questions raised by moderator Robyn Newcomb ’20.

According to Madelyn Cobb ’21, public relations chair of the Black Women’s Organization (BWO), a panel such as the Multicultural Student Organizaiton Panel is very important for expressing the needs of different organizations. “The [Multicultural Student Organization Panel] is important for the campus community because it allows the majority to see minorities unified as a group who experiences some of the same struggles instead of seeing us as different groups pit against each other,” she said.

Cobb’s opinions on the importance of the panel were shown in the similarities of the answers to the questions on the panel. One of the main themes of this year’s panel was the support the multicultural organizations receive on campus as an organization and for individuals who may identify with their organizations. Discussing this theme is especially topical, as some multicultural organizations such as the ASU and Minorities in Stem (MIS) have  previously expressed their concerns with the lack of administrative, faculty and student support for their organizations and student members. This panel gave both representatives of the organizations and audience members the opportunity to not only get to know the organizations on campus but also what their struggles are and how they are tackling the issues head on.

While the organizations generally had similar hopes for changes in the future, they differed in some ways. Several groups sought to expand their membership, not only to those who identify with the targeted demographic but also to those who don’t share that identity.

Cobb expressed her organization’s desire to diversify its membership. “It’d be really neat to see other minorities attending our meetings. Even though we’re a Black women’s organization, we have men come to our meetings, so even if you don’t identify as a Black woman, you can still join,” Cobb said.

Similarly, President of the Black Students Association (BSA) D’Khorvillyn Tyus ’19 addressed a common misconception surrounding her organization. “I feel like a lot of people think that we’re only for black students, and that’s not true at all. We have people from all other backgrounds that come to our meetings. If you can’t come to meetings, you can come out to events and support us in that way too,” she said.

Other groups’ concerns were rooted in some of the systems of the College, such as administrative or faculty support of their organizations. Cornelius Gyamfi ’19, president of ASU, reiterated previous concerns regarding the faculty and administrative support of the organization. He and the ASU are still advocating for more faculty and staff support of the group and the individual members of the organization.

Jasmine Herd ’19, co-contact for the Women of Images (WOI), addressed a major issue that affects many students of color at the College. “This school does a lot to recruit people of color,” she said, “but not a lot to keep them here. So one thing we’d really like to see is more administrative support to keep those students here.”

Other groups not only expressed their concerns, but also the events and aspects of their groups that they’re proud of.

“We’re proud of becoming a club,” the Public Relations Chair of Latinas Unidas Natalia Parra ’21 said. She explained that Latinas Unidas, which strives to empower Latinas in higher education, was approved to be a club as recently as last year, a feat that required huge investment from their board members. “So, if you’re interested in the culture you can come [to a meeting]. If you’re not a Latina, you can come — you can come and speak up and your voice will be heard and valued.”

Sophia Giordano-Scott ’19, president of BoD, shared with audiences a way to begin to get involved with the organizations on the panel. “This year, we have the Multicultural Coalition, so that’s the perfect place to come and figure out how to collaborate with other groups — we’re all people, so just reaching out will go a long way.”

(Photo by Toshiko Tanaka)

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Stan Lee became a hero in his own right, leaving a legacy

Zeke Martin

Contributing Writer

Stanley Martin Lieber, better known as Stan Lee, the creator of the Avengers, the X-Men and Black Panther, passed away on Nov. 12.  Thousands have payed tribute to Lee in the wake of his passing, including Tokyo Comic Con, which unveiled a memorial to him at this year’s convention.  And at the premier of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,”  pins bearing the likeness of Lee’s iconic aviator glasses were handed out to moviegoers. 

Lee’s passing has also brought to light his many contributions both to the world of comics and the world at large. In 1962, for instance, Lee and two of his partners, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, created “The Marvel Method,” a style of collaborative workflow that connected artists with writers and greatly increased the speed at which Marvel could produce new content. Later, after Lee rose from a writer at an upstart comic book company to chairman emeritus of one of the largest multimedia companies in the world, his direct role at Marvel began to decrease and he began to use his power to pursue other projects. He partnered with the History Channel to release “Stan Lee’s Superhumans,” a series documenting real-life people with extraordinary abilities, and with the NHL to produce superhero characters for each of the hockey teams in the league. He also founded his own charitable organization, the Stan Lee Foundation, which, according to its website, “strives to provide equal access to literacy and education” by partnering with “leading nonprofit, educational and arts organizations.” 

Stan Lee was also prominent in activism, using his position of power to promote racial equality in a divided America. First and foremost, he created Black Panther, the first black superhero in comics, in 1966, at the height of the American Civil Rights movement when black people lived in constant fear of hate and violence. Just two years later, in December of 1968, eight months after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Lee published an editorial titled “Stan’s Soapbox” which spoke out against prejudice. He described bigotry and racism as being “among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today.” He described bigots as “unreasoning haters” who hate “blindly, fanatically [and] indiscriminately” and said that “the only way to destroy them is to expose them to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are.” He closed his editorial with a sentiment which, while written in language some might view as outdated, expresses a sentiment that will continue to be vital for generations to come: “Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill our hearts with tolerance. For then, and only then, will we be truly worthy of the concept that man was created in the image of God — a God who calls us ALL — His children. Pax et Justitia, Stan.” These powerful words, spoken with a voice that was heard across the country, could not have been more vital. One only hopes that similarly powerful voices will continue to speak out in favor of “peace and justice,” as Lee’s closing note translates, in our era.

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Scotlight: Dr. Ron Hustwit

Dr. Ron Hustwit, a professor who has spent the last 52 years in Wooster’s philosophy department, reflects on his time at the College.

Could you give us a quick introduction?

Hi, I’m Ron Hustwit. I’m in the philosophy department, and I’m an old man. 

How long have you been working at the College?

52 years.

Wow. Amazing. What’s kept you here for 52 years?

Well, a lot of things. I love the place. It doesn’t take long to be here before you know that this is what you wanna do. It’s the right kind of place for the kind of philosophy I wanted to do and the kind of liberal arts education that I wanted to be involved with.

I know it couldn’t have been all peaches and cream for 52 years. What has been an issue with working as a professor at Wooster? 

Life is no peaches and cream, right? There’s a lot of peaches and a lot of cream. I guess you’re asking me something like what are the downsides? … Well, I can talk about what the hardest part of the job is. What I like to do least is grading where you have to pay a lot of attention to sentences and what students say and to get them to write and think clearly — that’s hard. At the same time, it’s the center of the job, too.

You mentioned earlier that you wanted to teach a very particular type of philosophy. What kind of philosophy is that?

First of all, when people ask me what I do in philosophy: “What’s my specialty?” I like to say, “Well I’m in general practice,” which is a medical expression used by doctors who aren’t specialized. I do have specializations in the sense that I’m very interested in the philosophy of language. I would even say that the particular philosophy of Wittgenstein has been influential in my orientation in philosophy. I had a classics minor in both undergraduate and graduate school which means that I was looking directly at ancient philosophy: pre-Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. So, that’s been an important aspect to my relation to the liberal arts that I can use directly in relation to the liberal arts framework, whereas my work in Wittgenstein has more to do with analyzing the language that philosophers use to express their theories. That has a carryover skill — even though it’s very specialized in philosophy; it’s a carryover skill in that it teaches people to pay attention to the details in sentences and language.

You were a faculty member during the Galpin Takeover. Did you have any role to play in Galpin it?

I don’t know what role I  played in it, but Mark Goodwin was my I.S. student, and we were talking about it. Also, Mark invited me to some of the meetings that he was involved in. I knew the other people — Joe Kennedy. He was in some of my classes. Mark Pickett, I didn’t know as well as the others, but I’ve been in conversations with him particularly since he’s been on the Alumni Council Board — those kinds of things. I was in discussions, let’s say that. 

So, then we also had the Galpin Call-in which was earlier this year. Did you have any role to play with that?

Well, I talked to Robert Dinkins ’19. He’s a philosophy major. He did his Junior I.S. with  me, and we had conversations. We talked about the earlier Galpin Takeover, too. But I’ll take no responsibility. Anything that was said, they used with their own power.

What do you feel would be an acceptable role for a professor to play in student campus protests?

I certainly think it’s important for students to talk with faculty, particularly if they’re asked. I would have to be careful about talking to them when they’re not asked, but I would have to see what the situation would be. But yeah, I think it’s important for discussions to take place. And there may be a case where it’s important for faculty to be involved in a demonstration. I think that students may well not know what a faculty person’s role and limits are with respect to actually taking part in something. But I mean, that’s something that would have to be decided by the individual faculty member. But I think it’s important to have open avenues where you’re talking with a student, and you can talk to them openly without challenging and without holding back either. 

Do you have one thing that you want the Voice to know and the students to know?

Well, I have been involved in other kinds of things than simply the Galpin students. I was also involved way back in late ’60s, I guess it was, when there was protests at the football game about the implication of curriculum and also the university changes in policy. And I also, during the Vietnam War, was involved in those kinds of things and did participate in some ways in some of those. I guess looking back at it all, I wanna say that it’s been good. It’s part of what’s supposed to happen at a university. And I’m happy with it.

Interview by Jenelle Booker, a Contributing Writer for the Voice (Photo from PostAndCourier.com).

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Wooster Bluegrass Jam plays for the community

Holly Engel

Staff Writer

Since the early 1900s, bluegrass music, a mixture of country, folk, gospel and blues, has inspired musicians throughout the world with its unique rhythms and harmonies. So, it is no surprise that bluegrass has eventually woven its way into the Wooster community.

Wooster Bluegrass Jam is an unchartered group of musicians and music lovers that gather once a week, usually on Sundays at 9 p.m. at the Kauke Arch, to jam out and listen to bluegrass music. In a video about Bluegrass Jam posted to YouTube featuring Jeremy Smucker ’19, Smucker discusses the diverse songs, instruments and people involved in the group. “We play some bluegrass classics, as well as some pop folk music, and it’s open to all skill levels and any instruments,” he said. “We have a lot of unique instrumentations in Bluegrass club including some non-traditional instruments.” Included in these bluegrass instruments are guitar, voice, fiddle, mandolin, banjo and many others.

Smucker also believes that the group is a positive indicator of the attitude of the College’s students. “I’d say part of the reason why I went to Wooster is [that] when I visited here, I just noticed how down-to-earth and real everybody seemed, and Bluegrass Jam definitely reflects that,” said Smucker.  “I think it’s awesome that we’re able just to pick up our instruments and play every Sunday night in the Arch. Maybe at a larger school, you wouldn’t be able to make connections like that.”

Kennedy McKain ’19, a violin performance major, has been going to Bluegrass since her first year at Wooster, and overall, she has had a fun experience. “I enjoy how accessible and collaborative the group is,” she commented. “You don’t have to play an instrument. You can hum, sing, beat a tambourine, and you’re a part of Bluegrass. I also think that because this isn’t a chartered student organization, it really gives the group a lot of free form, which is great from a creative aspect.” 

McKain sang with the group her first year, but now she enjoys fiddling though bluegrass is a very different style from the classical and contemporary music she is used to playing. “I decided to throw myself out there and try something different and I loved it,” she said. “Funny enough, it’s shaped the way I perform my classical music and how I present what I have to play in different settings.”

One of McKain’s favorite memories from Bluegrass is how one night, when playing “Folsome Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash, as the group sang the line “I hear the train a-comin,’” a train whistle sounded from downtown. “The smiles on everyone’s faces at such serendipitous timing is forever with me,” she remarked.

No matter the amount of musical experience, anyone is welcome to come out and listen or play. Generally, Bluegrass meets on Sundays at 9 p.m. in the Arch, weather permitting. Any updates on location, time and events can be found on the group’s Facebook page under “Bluegrass Jam.” Get out of those Sunday night blues and come play along!

(Photo by Kennedy McKain)

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Mumford and Sons struggle to find their own sound in “Delta”

Waverly Hart

Managing Editor

Solidifying themselves in the alternative rock genre, Mumford and Sons released “Delta” on Nov. 16, marking their fourth studio LP.

The 14-track album marks an even further departure from the traditional folk sound for which Mumford and Sons originally became famous.  Featuring the electric guitar and other synthetic sounds, the album creates an alternative sound similar to other pop-rock bands on the radio.

The band, led by vocalist and guitarist Marcus Mumford, saw success with their first two albums, “Sigh No More” (2009)  and “Babel” (2012). With songs such as “Little Lion Man,” “I Will Wait” and “The Cave,” Mumford and Sons quickly rose to fame as a folk-rock band.

However, when Mumford and Sons’ former banjo player Winston Marshall traded in his banjo for a bass guitar after saying, “fuck the banjo” in a 2014 interview, the group abandoned their strumming Appalachian bluegrass sound and took a more electronic rock approach to their music.  The songs on their third album, “Wilder Mind” (2015), are barely recognizable from their signature sound and appeal to a totally different fan base. 

While “Delta” is classified as an alternative/ indie album, the 61-minute LP is closer to Top 40 pop than “Wilder Mind.”  Though this album is their most sonically experimental, it is not their best work. Mumford and Sons is struggling to find their own sound and identity, as many songs are indistinguishable from other alternative pop songs played on the radio.

The album opens with “42,” a harmony of Bon Iver-esque voices that starts slow but turns into a more hummable song as instruments are added and the tempo builds until the end of the track.  

The highlight of the album is the second track, “Guiding Light,” an upbeat song released as the lead single in September.  The tempo and notes of the music behind the vocals are reminiscent of the repetitive banjo picking from the band’s first two albums.  The pattern and speed of notes are the same, yet they are synthesized and converted into an alternative electric sound. The lyrics are also some of the happier on the album, with the chorus repeating “Cause even when there is no star in sight/ You’ll always be my only guiding light.”

The next song is the awkward, slower anthem “Woman.”  Mumford stumbles through cliched lyrics such as “I can’t read your mind though I’m trying all the time…/ But I am left in awe of the woman I adore.”  The lyrics are no new spin on pining after a love interest. The complement to this is “Wild Heart,” a slow ballad also containing unoriginal lyrics about an adored romantic partner.  

“The Wild” is a slower song, with barely any sounds besides a gentle guitar backing up Mumford’s whispering voice.  This song tackles more serious themes than is usual  in past Mumford and Sons’ tracks, which several songs on the album also address.  After the opening lyrics “We saw birth and death,” the song goes on to deal with the different pains and heartaches the band experienced after returning home from tour.  

Other songs on the album are indistinguishable, with similar instrument riffs and beats set to different lyrics.  Overall, the album is indistinguishable from other alternative bands heard on the radio and only has a few good songs. 

Fans of Mumford and Sons’ original Appalachian folk sound will not like this album.  Fans of the new Mumford and Sons’ rock sound will be disappointed at its unoriginal pop feel.  Mumford and Sons is still attempting to produce the rock music they enjoy making, while not forgetting about their roots in folk. 

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