Thursday, July 5, 2012

Talibam! & Sam Kulik's Discover AtlantASS

In a Village Voice piece previewing the initial production of their Discover AtlantASS project, the musical duo Talibam! dropped (coined?) the term "post-goof", which is not a bad way to describe something that features the production values of a grade-school play, music that combines substantial chops with sub-juvenile humor, and includes, among other attractions, a more-than-healthy amount of simulated sex with stuffed animals, including a Muppet-like crab (and yes, they seize the opportunity for a "crabs" joke) who is actually something of a major character.

Kevin Shea as Franklin, the boy who comes from "the surface" with his magic pillow to save Atlantis (further plot summary would probably have diminishing returns), brings the same manic energy to acting as he does to drumming. Even with all the other strange things happening on stage, he's hard to look away from. Musical interludes are frequent, often taking the form of pop song-length, plot-related pieces with Kulik most often on vocals and either bass or trombone, and the Talibam! duo on their usual instruments, drums and effects-juiced keys (though all three contribute vocals, sometimes shifted an octave up or down). If the idea of avant rock/jazz/improv dudes performing songs like "Squeeze My Nuts in the Barnyard" while wearing funny pants sounds like your kind of thing (and I didn't realize it was my kind of thing until I saw it), I'd certainly recommend checking out AtlantASS if it's ever staged again. If that doesn't happen, there is a CD/comic book package available.

The show had various "opening acts" throughout the recently concluded run upstairs at St. Mark's Church. I was lucky enough to see Christopher Meeders' performance of Ursonate ("Ur-sonata"), the proto-sound poem by collagist Kurt Schwitters. It was virtuoso stuff, both hypnotic and funny, and seemed to put the audience in the appropriate anything-can-happen frame of mind to appreciate what followed.

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