Kitten Sparkles, Justice Yeldham and the Dynamic Ribbon Device, Dave Phillips, Leticia Castaneda


at Il Corral, April 11.

A bare converted garage not quite in Hollywood. Thin artfolk standing around, sullen. Performance noise on the menu. Running commentary from an ex-Germ, Don Bolles.

Leticia Castaneda’s mumbled meditations are an absent echo over slushy loop waves mixed by David Kendall, then she enters — dark eyes, wild teeth, black clothes and hair — and kicks over a cylindrical metal totem, clang. She addresses the cement floor, breathing heavily: "This thing is so small, but it controls my life." "I talk real loud to myself, no one else." Her howls resonate in your head and stay. Too real.

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In the ’80s, Zuricher Dave Phillips helped create a noise tradition. He perpetuates it, screening de rigueur animal-torture footage and "provocative" slogans ("NORMAL," "MORAL") while generating ear-bleed gunfire, explosions and hisses. It’s painful and, except for some sound textures, boring. Bolles, aside after: "People are mean."

Justice Yeldham is a small, stocky Australian self-torturer. He drips great blobs of illuminated goo into his mouth, then gradually expels it onto a plate of glass he squash-jerks against his face. As he lurches dangerously about, you can see his distorted face through the glass, which has a contact mike stuck to it. Yeldham vocalizes against the glass, manipulating the sounds with an array of effects devices belted around his waist. The sounds careen unpredictably and truthfully, interrupted a few times when Yeldham gets unplugged. He breaks the glass, cuts his mouth with it and kisses the blood around. It’s a satisfying performance. Finished, he says (with some difficulty) that he’s got 45s for sale, and he’ll smear his blood on them if you like. I wish I’d bought one.

Between segments, everybody’s out on the cool night sidewalk, smoking and talking. Yeldham is slouched alone on the curb, exhausted. Bolles comes out, announces, "If you’ve got psychedelics, you should do them now."

Kitten Sparkles is the audiovisual project of the wizened mini-magician Bolles (tonight sporting a cartoony elephant mask) and the quiet, stooping loopmaster Joseph Hammer. The room is dark. Hammer expresses most of the soundcraft — roaring, supportive cycles. Bolles, meanwhile, aims a light strobe into individual audience members’ eyes till everyone’s blinded; no way you can keep your eyes open. Behind your lids, you discover ever-changing patterns of streaks and symmetries, octagons breaking into coherent subcomponents and swirling down a geometric drain, a hole in the center of reality, white like death. Simple but effective, this mode takes you to authentically new places, and it’s different for each subject. Adjusting the setup beforehand, Bolles describes his own auditory reaction: "This music frees me, I can hear anything in it. It’s like downloads forever in my mind."

You won’t find this stuff at the Knitting Factory.

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