Another blast of otherworldly wonder and weirdness from Electronic Planet Ensemble
Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., Jan. 15, 2010
The Vortex, 2307 Manor Rd., 478-5282, www.electronicplanetensemble.com
Through Jan. 24
Running time: 1 hr
David Jewell and the Electronic Planet Ensemble, who gave us their Spaceman:Dada:Robot last year, return in this first month of the new decade with another sonic exploration of
otherworldly wonder and weirdness.
As before, Jewell, an old-school spoken-word talent who started out back in the years before poetry was slammed, regales the crowd with his musings on things cosmic and his "Gidget Goes Galactic" narrative of the interdimensional romance between Surf Boy and Space Girl.
"Regales," did we say? Fairly croons, at times, between more staccato stretches of story, like some resurrected beatnik from the Fifties laying down the vibe in a bongo-filled coffeehouse.
There are no bongos, per se, in Surfin' UFO – although, if there were, they'd more likely be played by the ghost of Erich von Däniken than by that of the famously bongo-happy physicist Richard Feynman. No, there's an entire drum kit here, lashed into with deep skills and ferocious intensity by Rachel Fuhrer, laying the groundwork for the prog-rock keyboards of Chad Salvata and Sergio Samayoa's badass bass guitar. No coffeehouse vibe beyond the frontman in this show, fellow space traveler: Is this what it would sound like if Hawkwind had been Laurie Anderson's backup band? Close enough for astrophysics.
If you like tales of wacky sci-fi romance, surf movies, and the compelling mysteries of crop circles; if you like the feeling of having discovered a gem of beat-driven space-arena music hidden in the midst of the theatre community; if you can groove to the stylings of a cat in a jumpsuit who might remind you of your eccentric Uncle Dave who has that Fortean Society membership, except that your uncle never had the funky moves and vocal finesse this man Jewell has; if so, then you'll love this the way John Carter loved Dejah Thoris.
Personally, we'd like to see some longer breaks between songs, with simply spoken matter that's more than brief and interstitial, to mix things up a bit. And, musicwise, solos from each of those amazing instrumentalists. But maybe that's something for the next EPE show? Maybe that, like 2012, is drawing inexorably closer. For now, there's this door into a solid evening of spoken-word space rock inside the Vortex's comfortable warehouse venue. And the Anunnaki, those ancient astronauts who genetically engineered the human race into what we are today, are knock-knock-knocking at that door. You should join them, space-budget allowing.