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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.

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.