Two guys in blindingly white suits, shoes and tophats (one of which looked exactly like the Mad Hatter's hat in Alice in Wonderland) played excellent trippy and melodic harmonious trance for just under an hour, not nearly long enough. The Ministry of Inside Things, Art Cohen and Chuck van Zyl on guitar and synthesizers, have those spacy and throbbing sounds that make you imagine you're back in the sixties again on a particularly mellow mescaline trip. At times reminiscent of the early Kitaro (compliment, IMHO), these guys are one of the best acts I've heard and seen at the Rotunda.
 
Sharks With Wings features two string basses making remarkable low growly noises, among other things. Sorta reminded me, but not very much, of a performance I once witnessed in a basement in the East Village where this Japanese composer suspended a koto (in this case a koto draped in seaweed) from the ceiling, trained multicolored spots on it, then played back tapes he had made by plucking the koto strings from about 16 amplifiers strategically placed around the basement. He got incredibly low growly noises which sometimes crescendoed into the sound of a 747 taking off from JFK, plus little high squeaky noises like the scream of the butterfly from the wellknown Doors song. IMHO performances at the Rotunda could benefit from more strategic placement of speakers, but that's a minor quibble. I didn't realize that I was sitting directly in front of two huge speakers until these guys started producing some huge metallic squawks. Their lightshow was somewhat freaky but, like, disjointed.
 
I really realized I was sitting directly in front of two huge speakers when Calabi Yau came on around midnight and literally jolted me out of my chair with some factory machine noise which reminded me it was waaaay past my bedtime.
 
The Great Quentini was particularly sweaty and jerky, opening with some kind of voodoo dance to Haitian Mardi Gras drumming. He couldn't seem to figure out which one of his loony blinking helmets to wear, and his usually impressive xylophone performances were not up to usual standard. However, the readings were a lot of fun, and elicited a few howls and grunts from the audience. One thing Quentini could greatly benefit from is more audience participation; at times the gang at the Rotunda seem as shy and inhibited as a bunch of UPENN virgins. Would probably help if the audience brought rotten fruit and vegetables along to lob at the guy to encourage him.
 
D. Gerbilstats visuals, if you can call them visuals, were particularly queasy-making, suggesting at times greasy fried eggs, barium enemas, or colonoscopy. Made me sorry I had forgotten to bring my digestive pills along.
 
 

Ross Bender
http://rossbender.org

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