Monday, January 11, 2010

Surfin' UFO, A Love Story, Electronic Planet Ensemble at the Vortex Repertory, January 8 - 24

David Jewell's word pictures lift beyond the Vortex space, riding with the waves of music, percussion and video, and the Electronic Planet Ensemble delivers us to someplace exalted and different and yet familiar. They are surfin' big themes on comic book concepts with surfboards and hula hoops, and you have no idea what they're going to do next to your consciousness.

Back in the Age of Aquarius this would have been far out, prime foodstuff for consciousness expanding through hallucinogens.

In the twenty-first century as our world shrinks, our myths expand and our attention spans shorten, the EPE packs wonder with serious myth and wry humor. We are not, after all, the center of the universe. And isn't that concept amazing, just by itself?

With his straight face, serious demeanor, blue jumpsuit and porkpie hat, David Jewell could be a plumber or a college professor. But what the man is, is a seer. He's hypnotized by stellar reaches, extraterrestrial beings, whales, visitations from outer space, and crop circles.

At the same time he reaches out and gives those mythic beings our own desires and foibles. Look at the capsule summaries of some of the EPE's throbbing, careering, seductive pieces: "Surf Boy sees Space Girl and is Amazed." "Space Girl is wanting the Surf Boy." "Space Girl's dad gives her advice." "Intro song to the Movie Gidget Goes Galactic, directed by Surf Boy and Space Girl to raise money to build themselves their own spaceship."

Add, for good measure, the prophet Ezekiel's vision, taken verbatim from the Bible. Ezekiel saw a wheel, 'way up in the middle of the air . . . and a vision of annihilating brilliance.

EPE thunders, rolls, spirals, and rocks. Sergio R. Samayoa is on the bass; Chad Salvata runs keyboasrds and stands by Jewell on vocals; ball-of-fire Rachel Fuhrer is all percussion, all types, all the time. If you attended last year's Spaceman:Dada:Robot or In.Car.Nation, you'll recognize the style. This is intelligent music that will hold you captive both with rhythms and melodies, supporting Jewell's word pictures and indissoluble from them. It is rock-n-roll LOUD, but so closely integrated with the texts that you will not miss a word.

Jewell is not a singer, but he uses his voice, his timing, his rhythm with the power of a shaman.

Go for the music, if you want just to blast off and sail away. Go for the energy of it. Go for the video by Samayoa, because it's kaleidoscopic, colorful, clever and exuberant. Go for Jewell's texts, the love story, the wry humor and the wonder.

And go for the international mail art show. We missed it, because the Vortex cafe had just gotten a paint job in red and apricot, and the EPE folks were still stringing together their mobils. Take a look at their art gallery on-line, to understand the sense of play that motivated this whole enterprise. I mean -- surfin' and UFOs? Weren't those the obsessions of the 1950s and 1960s?

And wow -- now we're here, in the future!


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