I Didn’t Know Whether To Clap, Laugh Or Pray

March 26th, 2005 | researchmaterial

A review of a performance by Justice Yeldham And The Dynamic Ribbon Device:

“A barefoot Australian in faded jeans and a beer shirt was strapping on a belt of electronic devices. Two wires led from the belt. One was attached to a large set of speakers and the other was attached to a jagged piece of glass. This was Justice Yeldham and the Dynamic Ribbon Device. The sound man turned on the power and the whole contraption started to hum ominously. Meanwhile our shoeless bloke was squeezing half a tube of KY jelly onto his face and into his mouth. The live music performance was about to begin.

He played the device by rubbing his face up against the glass. The sound traveled down the wire and into a set of amplifiers and distortion boxes attached to his waist. This distressing music then came squealing out of the speakers at incredible decibels, instantly deafening all other sounds. Eyes widened in uncertainty and hands covered ears but he played on. He played with agonizing passion, sliding his face against the glass while flecks of KY jelly flew in all directions. The front row of spectators inched backwards out of spray range and some fled altogether. I was transfixed. As he glided his cheek across the glass he played with the switches on his belt. The squealing noise varied in pitch but never in intensity. It was like electrified teeth rubbing on a blackboard. It was like uncontrolled guitar feedback played backwards. It shouted of sorrow. It screamed of pain. It was art.

“Five minutes into the performance and his mouth was cut by the glass as he played the edge. Blood mixed with KY jelly in a red smear. More spectators fled. The sound continued to attack us in volleys of crazed noise until the final spike as he smashed the pane of glass. Then it was over. I didn’t know whether to clap, laugh or pray.”

-Ravi Jeyachandran on 040604 beirut


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  1. You can find Warren on Twitter: @warrenellis