What's been described as "a trumpet player trapped in a two dimensional universe" is in fact the unique audio work of Justice Yeldham, a maverick musician with an unhealthy obsession with sheets of broken glass. By pressing his face and lips against the glass whist employing various vocal techniques ranging from throat singing to raspberries, he turns disguarded household windows into crude musical instruments. Resulting in a wide variety of cacophonous noises that are strangely controlled and oddly musical.
Justice Yeldham is the latest alter-ego of Australian sound performer Lucas Abela, whose past sonic experiments were conducted under monikers like A Kombi, Dj Smallcock & Peeled Hearts Paste. Initially classed as an experimental turntablist, although his early work rarely resembled anything in the field. Early feats, saw him stab vinyl with Kruger style stylus gloves, bound on electro acoustic trampolines, drag race the popemobile across Sydney Harbour Bridge, perform deaf defying duet duels with amplified samurai swords, hospitalised by high powered turntables constructed from sewing machine motors, record chance John Peel sessions with the Flaming Lips, & be Otomo Yoshihides' favourite entry into his Ground Zero remix competition; 'Consummation' even though instead of sampling the CD he destroyed it using amplified skewers!
He also founded and runs dualpLOVER (recording label, cd/dvd replicators, distributor and promoter of gigs and tours). Principally a live audio artist he’s been performing professionally for the past 14 years, ever since Oren Ambarchi and Robbie Avenaim stumbled across his late night radio performances in 1994 and asked him to play their 2nd What is Music? Festival. Since he's toured the world extensively, performing hundreds of shows in 39 countries.
"...but then the anomaly that is Justice Yeldham is preparing to shock and awe. How to describe the music of a man, armed with a belt of oscillators and distortion pedals hooked up to a pane of amplified glass onto which he screams, hollers and blows and bellows until he's left with nothing but shards of glass nestled between his teeth? Demented? Certainly! Entertaining? Absolutely - as long as you're not squeamish."
Rock A Rolla magazine on 434 Birmingham 120708
"Yeldham's live performance consists of grinding his face into a sheet of mic'd up plate glass. It is hideous for a variety of reasons. One is that the transparency of the glass means you get to view his face all squished up against the other side of the glass like a kid on a special bus wiping his nose down the window as you overtake them on the motorway. Another reason is the sound really is quite nasty. The resonant properties of the glass means as he yells onto/into it and then pulls and squeezes at the sheet, the pitch of his voice wildly varies and wavers and this in turn is run through some truly ugly processing that makes it sound like a Dalek in it's death throes."
-Chris Summerlin on 151105 nottingham
"Blood. Noise. Broken Glass. KY Jelly. DJ Smallcock [justice yeldham] is once seen, neverforgotten. Working at the bleeding edge of performance art and noise terror mentalism with adash of carny showboating, he screams and hyperventilates into contact microphones while his laptop morphs the nightmarish results into inhuman ring-modulated torture. This is a perfectly formed miniature that says a great deal about the principles of performance, entertainment and the wisdom of standing at the back."
-venue magazine on 081105 bristol.
"A writhing, contorting, nauseating, sensational screamingfuckingbloodymess, the 33-year-old Australian glassjaw who performs as Justice Yeldham And The Dynamic Ribbon Device has a show so visceral, so alive, that it can move a room full of the most jaded noisenrrds to gaping-mouthed wonderment. The pock-marked bloke born Lucas Abela, mischievously takes the stage of Denver avant-loft/noisenik playhouse Monkey Mania wearing a belt surrounded by distortion pedals and a single contact mic limply dangling from a wire. He squeezes a tube of KY Jelly all over his weathered mug and into his mouth. He clicks on the pedals and presses he face to a triangle of glass. Hideous black garglescuzz pours out of the speaker, each yelp, hum and fart matching his face’s disgusting rubbery contortions. The sounds are inhuman, but their patterns are most definitely familiar, a hyper-distorted screech-tantrum howling in bone-rattling harmonies, all set to the bittersweet aroma of warm lube. He leaps into the crowd, face twisted into apoplectic distortions, and begins seizuring. And here is where everyone starts flipping the fuck out. Abela gnaws on the glass like a lion gutting an antelope. Each sickly crack jettisons through the distortion pedals, blorts out the amp and is followed by the screams of shock, fear, joy and various combinations of the three. The glass comes smashing down on his face. He waits, panting, for the cheers and screams to die down. His cheek is oozing blood from a sharp red line. His earlobe is sliced open and spitting a steady stream down his neck onto his KY-soaked shirt."
-christopher r. weingarten on 030405 denver
"It was louder than anything that had preceded it, and it had an organic quality that demanded my attention - so I took a look. The Australian stood in the middle of a semi-circle of onlookers, the DJ and a hospita lgurney behind him. He wore a belt of effects peddles about his waste which were wired to a contact microphone affixed to a three foot long triangular piece of plate glass that was balanced on one shoulder and pressed wickedly against his face with both hands. It was like some perverse facial ham press. He blew into the glass like a trumpet player trapped in a two dimensional universe, sliding the glass back and forth across his face to change the pitch, vibrating and adjusting pressure to alter the tambour. The sound was a combination of the vibrations created by his manipulations and the feedback from the amplification, and he truly played it like an instrument. In totality, it was kind of like a cross between a dental vacuum and a jet engine - two of my favorite sounds. The first cuts I noticed were on his shoulder where hewas supporting most of the weight of the glass. His tee shirt had been sliced in two or three places, and a little bit of blood was starting to show. It was evident that this was going to be more than anyone had expected, and to drive that point home, he stuck the narrow end of the triangle as far into his mouth as he could fit it - and bit down. Breathing through barred, clenched teeth, a whole new sound appeared and then the glass gave way, shattering in his mouth. Quickly spitting out what he could, the larger, unbroken section of glass was again up against his face - smaller now, higher in pitch and somehow more urgent. His mouth was bleeding, and the distorted image of his face took on a new aspect of horror as the blood formed an organic liquid gasket between man and instrument. The intensity of the noise had not let up one bit, and with a few quick twists of the knobs on his belt any sense of waning was replaced by a new level of sound and violence. He bit the glass again, removing another big chunk, and then returned to the "first position," now with a piece of glass less than half it's original size. Again, the sound advanced to a new intensity, and at this point his entire face was red with blood that was mixing with his saliva and mucus to drip in tendrils from his hands, chin, and of course the glass. By this point, he was completely unable to stand still. The focus and control of is initial stance was replaced by a twisting, stomping, arching tangle of odd dance moves clearly inspired by the drive to continue the performance to it's conclusion. The final moments of the performance are hard to describe - suffice it to say that there was no piece of glass remaining that was larger that two inches in size. I was definitely left with an awareness that I had seen something that was totally for real - and I know that I've been a better person for it in the three days since."
-micheal SMITH on los angeles 050305
"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.
"PEELED HEARTS PASTE [justice yeldham] brought out a 3'x3' sheet of glass and some substance, covered his head and fucking went NUTS, screaming/ flapping/ cutting with the glass. after a few insane and gross minutes he broke the glass over his head and used a large shard as his instrument, smearing blood and goop all over the glass with his face disgustingly smashed against it. did i mention he was barefoot the whole time? fucking insane. glass all over the basement at this point.. someone yelled "SUICIDE!" and it almost happened."
-greh on 061203 ann arbour..
"DJ SMALLCOCK [justice yeldham]: This guy runs a pressing plant out of Australia called Dual Plover - the cheapest place to get your CD printed in the entire world. Also a noise label. So I had taken him outside earlier because I figured, he's like ten thousand miles from home and would probably really like to get high. I'm asking him about his tour and I'm noticing that there's something wrong with his face - dried blood on the end of his nose and assorted scabs everywhere, and I really want to ask him but I don't. I mean, what am going to say? So he sets up barefoot: a contact mic run through three octave pedals, an EQ, and something that looked homemade; the contact mic was stuck to a piece of glass and the piece of glass was stuck to his face. He hummed and vibrated the glass and the sound that came out was jarring - how it could be that rhythmic and rich in that limited source was impressive on its own. He ended his set by smashing the glass with his face, blood running down his forehead, slivers sparkling on the stage. Totally fucking amazing. I walked up to him after and brayed, "So that's what happened to your face!"
-donna parker on 091003 boston
Selected Festival Appearances.
2008 gocha festival, Kawachinagano, Japan PAN (Performance Art Network) ASIA Festival, Seoul, South Korea Supersonic, Birmingham, UK Bad Bonn Kilbi, Düdingen, Switzerland SXSW (load showcase) Austin, USA INC, Miami, USA
2007 Unsound Festival, Prague, Czech Republic Donau Festival, Krems, Austria. Sonic Protest, Paris, France. Observatori Festival, Valencia, Spain Le Weekend, Stirling, Scotland Venn Festival, Bristol, England Liquid Architecture, Melbourne, Victoria
2006 Tiny Noise, Sofia, Bulgaria Electrograph, Athens, Greece Franko B, Colchester, England Unsound Festival, Wagga Wagga, NSW Straight Out of Brisbane, Brisbane, Queensland
2005 No Trend; London, England Les Voutes, Paris, France. Ertz, San Sebastian, Spain Lausanne Underground Film Festival, Lausanne, Switzerland. Ekko Festival, Bergen, Norway Unsound Festival, Krakow, Poland Jon Roses'Panikkin (The Melbourne International Arts Festival), Melbourne, Victoria Liquid Architecture, Melbourne, Victoria This Is Not Art, Newcastle, NSW No Fun Festival, New York, USA GAS (Glass Arts Society) Conference, Adelaide, South Australia
2004 Ideal Festival, Goteborg, Sweden Transmediale, Berlin, Germany Noise Festival, Ljubljana, Slovenia LEM Festival (Caixaforum), Barcelona, Spain Brake My Brick (Liverpool Biennial), Liverpool, England
2003 Turnament, Los Angeles, USA Now Now, Sydney, NSW
1998 String Em Up!, Rotterdam, Netherlands. Exiles, Berlin, Germany
1996-97-2002-05 EAR stage Big Day Out, Sydney, NSW
1995-96-97-98-2000-01 What Is Music?, Sydney / Melbourne, NSW / Victoria
2006 Anthony Pateras, Make It Up Club (Fringe Festival), Melbourne, Victoria
2005 Maja Ratkje, Oslo, Norway Jon Roses' Panikkin (Melbourne Festival), Melbourne, Victoria Robin Fox, Ding Dong Dang, Melbourne, Victoria Alex Davies, Lanfranchis, Sydney, NSW
2003 Chris Abrahams, Oren Ambarchi, Dr Martin Ng, Robin Fox, Now Now, Sydney, NSW
2000 Oren Ambarchi, Robbie Avenaim, Dr Martin Ng, Dave Grohl & Curse Ov Dialect (performing as Testicle Candy) Big Day Out, Melbourne, Victoria.
1999 Yamatsuka Eye, Noise Ramones Remixes, Sydney, NSW
1998 Otomo Yoshihide, Bob Ostertag, Jon Rose, String Em Up, Rotterdam, Netherlands. Flaming Lips, Peel Session, BBC Studios, London, England Masami Akita (Merzbow), Tokyo, Japan
Discography Birthdays; 12”, Anarchymoon / Turgid Animal / All Thumbs Press (2008) Cicatrix; CD Album, Sweatlung Recordings, Australia (2007) Live in Seoul, 7" Single, 8mm Recordings, Italy (2007) Live in School, 7" Single, Load Records, USA (2007) Live in Beirut, 7" Single, Chondritic Sound, USA (2005) Live in Lisboa, 7" Single, Freedom From, USA (2005) Live in Germany, 8" Single, dualpLOVER, Australia (2005)
Selected Pre-Justice Discography. DJ Smallcock: Yinyue, CD, dualpLOVER, Australia (2000) Peeled Hearts Paste: Plover Brand, CD,dualpLOVER, Australia (1997) A Kombi: Music to Drive-by, dualpLOVER, Australia (1994)