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Pop Music Review : What Makes Donna Twirl? Histrionics

May 19, 1987|CRAIG LEE

What Makes Donna Twirl? Oh, thumping percussion, and noisy guitars, and clown suits, and lots and lots and lots of unbridled teen-age Angst and psychosis, delivered at ear-shattering volume.

What Makes Donna Twirl is the local group that opened Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions' "Uncommon Concert Series" on Sunday night, and while the quartet is definitely uncommon, it's hard to apply rational criteria to such a histrionic unit.

What makes Donna good is the percussion work, with a steel drum adding a Third World feeling to the group's decidedly non-ethnic smash tunes.

What makes Donna hard to take is all that excess: constant streams of impressionistic babble from the vocalists and a determination to play the most irritating, anxiety-ridden progressions imaginable. These twirling Donnas walk a very thin and noisy line between inspiration and indulgence.

While it operates in somewhat the same area, opening combo Steaming Coils was the most satisfying of the evening's three bands. The sextet crossbreeds an interesting mix of styles and instruments, including slide guitar and a very hot saxophone.

The improvisational segments leaned more toward free jazz than industrial-strength smash-ups or chaotic abandon, and moments of whimsy added to a mix that recalled such diverse units as Frank Zappa, Henry Cow and Pink Floyd.

Four Way Cross, four graduates of the Joy Division school of post-punk mordancy, featured an amateurish light show, some pretty flute playing and a nice sense of dense moodiness, if little else.

The LACE "Uncommon" series continues with Enormous Bones on Sunday and a percussion concert May 31.

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