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Raga Muffins

So I'm in Eastside Records a few days back looking for old Devo albums (don't ask why), and I spot this stack of small, black handbills someone has placed at the bottom of the racks amid a smattering of other fliers for rock shows and raves. The bills in question weren't advertising music or a party, however. They were different. The top half of each depicted two longhair-and-bandanna types with X's where their eyes should be.

The lower half bore a message:

Friends and neighbors, are you sick of uttering similar statements to such trash? We work hard for our homes and a safe community to live in. It's time to take back our streets by using the strength and violent self-defense that good people need to use to [sic] when thier [sic] backs are against the wall. The police are doing nothing to stop this invasion. Citizens, friends, neighbors, our backs are NOW against the wall and it is now that we must look to one another to cure this disease. The "Street Sweeper Vanguard," a people's front, has formed and we will be taking matters into our own hands!

Now, call me an optimist, but I'm thinking these fliers--which were also scattered along Mill Avenue a few days later--may be a joke--and a clever one. But I'm not sure the "Street Sweeper Vanguard" isn't holding meetings in someone's Tempe garage, making plans to lynch the homeless. I can almost hear the group's redneck battle cry: "Hang 'em high!" Pat Buchanan is never going to be president, but he's still getting votes, you know what I'm saying? In any case, you really should swing by Eastside Records and pick up a flier. The front of your fridge will thank you for it.

Promote the Peace: Better start sifting through your pairs o' party shoes, 'cause I got another one for you (a party, that is--find your own shoes). Peace Power will be the order of the evening (or should that be "aura of the evening"?) Friday at ... well, turns out this is one of those "underground" info line kinda things. Location undisclosed and all that. Call 720-5463 for the specs (I do know at this writing that the party starts at 10:30 p.m. and should go until dawn or beyond).

As a rave, Peace Power should sport all the usuals--namely, choice house music and the closest atmosphere to Mardi Gras you'll find this side of Fat Tuesday. But I bring this party to your attention because ithas a few twists worthy of note: Aside from afearsome-foursome lineup of local talent on the turntables (Shawn, R.C. Lair, Eddie Amador and Joe Bear), the "Groove Chamber" dance room at Peace Power is also set up to showcase Phoenix Massive, a live acid-house duo made up of "DJ Dolomite" and "Fast Booker Shaftatron" (what, did these guys pull their names out of a BBoy Scrabble game?).

Mr. Dolomite and Mr. Shaftatron plan to break out an impressive collection of vintage Roland, Moog and EML synthesizers, including one 1973 model that looks more like a telephone switchboard than a musical instrument.

Other intriguing rooms scheduled for Peace Power that sound like they'll be worth popping your ears into include the Rhythm Room (live, perpetual drum circle) and the enticingly titled Padded Palace, which--in addition to a bubble-wrap couch--will house two ambient deejays (#6 and Butterfly) and Cosmic Mantra, a traditional Indian music group.

You think Western music dates back a ways--Brahms, Beethoven and all those cats? Some of the songs on Cosmic Mantra's playlist predate Jesus. Get your mind around that one for a second.

Recently formed, Cosmic Mantra played its first gig a few weeks ago at Gentle Strength Co-op & Deli natural-foods store in Tempe (Peace Power will be its second). I didn't attend the group's debut performance, but I've heard the tape. A real eye-opener--the mind's eye, that is.

Cosmic Mantra's instrumentation is totally trad--guitar, vocals, mridanga drum and tamboura, a stringed instrument made from a hollowed-out gourd that emits an incessant, hypnotic drone--but the music defines timelessness. If a groove is 2,000 years old, you know it's got to be good.

Peace Power's attempt to bring the underground/rave scene and the neohippies together is a noble effort, but I see one notable omission--it seems that such an inclusive affair should also feature at least one hip-hop room. I understand the security concerns associated with that particular music-based subculture, but if unity is truly the goal, then unity should truly be the practice as well. Peace out.

Heads Up: Not all the stops on this year's annual downtown Art Detour art-gallery tour were commercial beyond redemption. Check out "Space Music," a seven-artist exhibit at Finch Gallery (116 South Central), including painter Brian Marsland (I have a friend with a couple Marsland originals--it's a see-to-believe situation) and kinetic sculptor Al Price, whose piece in "Space Music" is a huge, articulated-steel satellite augmented by cylinders that shoot light in four directions. The show continues at Finch on April 5 and May 3. You can also see it by appointment. Bitchin' visuals.--David Holthouse

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David Holthouse
Contact: David Holthouse

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