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Computers Win!

Considering how much The Matrix Reloaded sucked (especially being mooned by Keanu Reeves, which I took to be a big, Nelson Muntz-style "Ha-ha!" from a clod who can't act and yet gets to add my $8 to the millions he's already got in the bank), I was stuck with the feeling that any computer-related artistic endeavor would, forever after, suck.

Not so!

My faith in the artistic promise of computers was restored last Saturday at ELectron SAlon 7, a three-part concert that showcased the glories (and foibles) of cutting-edge art. Certainly the group's most elaborate venture to date, ELSA 7 inched ever closer to what I (ever so presumptuously) see as the ideal: a sort of Proustian "magic lantern," a device which could transform even his exceedingly familiar bedroom into an alien world.

The artistry reached new heights with Mark Buchanan's visual synthesizer Kazoo and the Elsewhere Troop's operetta Without Ourselves: 5 verses on Digital Identity, but, despite DJ Victoria's soothing voice and professional MCing, the overall production suffered a bit from a muddled sense of mood and presentation. Technophiles might not mind technical difficulties glossed over with technophile humor, but critics like myself tend to be less forgiving; this is a performance after all, not a trade show.

That being said, Buchanan's visuals accompanying Beck's "The Golden Age" were nothing short of sublime, putting Laserium shows to shame (where they belong). His music video interpretation of Peter Gabriel's "Darkness" was embarrassingly literal, yet sweetly endearing. Ducks to Water's performance of the David Borden's sixteenth-note bonanza The Continuing Story of Counterpoint (part 9) was ... er, a lesson in counting? It wasn't the most enjoyable piece to sit through (maybe it could have used more visuals), but it was certainly technically difficult and took guts to perform.

The finale of the show, Without Ourselves, was lofty both in its technical and theatrical ambition, succeeding in both pursuits to an extent which I can only describe as ... purple. Well, and I guess I should add, with a big white stripe. It was interesting and beautiful and deep and sad (purple), but the mood of the music only ever changed imperceptibly, defying the characters' arcs that were present in the text. Whatever, right? Theatrical snobbery aside, Wayne Jackson's writing was poignant and funny, Emmanuel Deruty's music was ever-so-starkly beautiful, and both Iwalani Faulkner and Aimee Page were as gorgeous as they were sonorous. Meanwhile, behind them onscreen, Yasmina Dedijer-Small's animation of the Proxy character was perhaps less of a character per se than an abstract representation of alienated intimacy. As Reeves would say: "Whoa."

A Few Words on the Boneshakers

Something inside me wants to say that the Boneshakers are, like, the greatest band ever or something, because damn, they were hot last Saturday night at Moe's. Bluesy, funky and rockin'--not to mention good lookin' (especially their newfound diva Nathalie), the lead singer Sweet Pea Atkinson was also on fire, decked out in a royal blue blaser, a pimpin' hat with a red feather, and who needs a tie when ya gots a gold chain around your neck?

Upcoming!

Senegalese singer Fania performs at the Kuumbwa on July 17 at 8pm, bringing her soulful Afro-pop to a perfectly intimate venue. Beautiful, languid melodies pervade her debut album, Sopi, memorable for its spirited ballads and appealing blend of traditional Senegalese instruments with tasteful electronic innovations. Tickets available at Bookloft and Streetlight.

In celebration of a full year of Wednesday-night dance parties, the organizers of Flow are bringing U.K. nu-skool breaks legend DJ Tipper back to the 418 Project on June 11 for an encore performance. Tipper will play live music from his groundbreaking audio DVD, Surrounded, from 10 to 11:15pm, followed by a breaks set 2:30-2am-ish. Tickets are $5 before 11pm, $7 after 11pm at the door.

Also on the way: Chip Taylor June 12 at Henfling's; Lavay Smith June 13 at Moe's Alley; Lonely Kings and Fire Sermon June 13 at Catalyst; The Substitutes June 13 at Ideal Bar & Grill; Joe Louis Walker June 14 at Moe's Alley.

Mike Connor

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From the June 11-18, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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