Draven Reviews: Voices by Jeff Prace

approvedTitle: Voices
Artist:  Jeff Prace
Producers: Jeff Prace Magic
Link: http://www.penguinmagic.com/p/4865
Retail Price: $24.95 USD
Learning Difficulty: Easy
Length of DVD: 2 hours 30 minutes
Notes:  Assembly of Props Will Be Required.

Features:
•    Play All
•    Tricks
•    Extra
◦    Strawsome
◦    IFlite
◦    Light Flight
◦    Creative Session

I don’t know Jeff personally but I have seen him grow up through online forums that he’s a regular participant in.  I’ve seen his creativity time and time again, and was blown away by just how fertile his mind is when I reviewed his first release GUM back in 2010.  I’ve seen Jeff grow from young adult into a formidable power of creative magic within this community so when Jeff told me he had a new DVD coming I knew I wanted to get a copy for myself.  I wanted to know just what these voices were, and let me tell you… I’m not disappointed.

With ad copy like “unsettling voices lead to insanely good tricks”, and “Hi my name is Jeff, and I hear voices”, cover art of his face screaming, and a dingy basement of a serial killer set that this project was filmed in the bizarrist in me leapt at the possibility that Jeff had finally crossed over to the dark side.  I had to know:  could he be producing some geek material?  Would it be spooky?  Is it possible Jeff has started doing séance or creepy mentalism work?  There was only one way to find out… break the seal on the DVD case and pop that sucker into my laptop.

Blessedly Jeff hasn’t lost touch with his roots and gone completely over to the dark side.  The magic in the DVD is still very much the same Jeff that brought us Gum back in 2010, and although the DVD certainly has a creepy horror movie feeling to it, that’s the only thing bizarre about the disk- pardon my pun.  So what is the magic style if it’s not creepy or bizarre?  I think the only word I can use to describe Jeff’s approach to magic is “organic”.

There is so many things in magic that deal with impossible stories of trips to the Orient, fancy boxes or other props that no one OTHER than a magician would own and or use, or fancy setups and costly mechanics.  So many times when we watch a magic show we know we’re going to see a magic show based upon the things we see being used.  Hell even cards have been done to death to the point that once you hear that all too familiar riffle your eyes roll themselves back into your head as your brain tells you “here we go again.”  Magic in a lot of ways has become a trope onto itself.

Jeff’s out of the box thinking finds the magical moment in everyday items and capitalizes on creating that magical moment in a style that I can only describe as “off beat.”  I say that because you’ve already witnessed a miracle before you’re even really aware that a magician is going to do something for you.  Prime example in point is his first effect on Voices called “Flavorless”.  A magician offers you a chewed up piece of gum, then realizes that this is kind of gross so he magically makes it brand new.  He then offers your best friend some gum fresh from the pack because he’s a good guy like that.  By the time the brain re-engages gears the magic is already happened, the magician’s hands are super clean, and you’re left wondering what the %$@# just happened here?

The magic taught by the voices in Jeff’s head isn’t going to be the kind of stuff you’d see on the grand stages of a Las Vegas casino.  This isn’t the kind of stuff that makes tigers or pretty ladies in scantily clad bikinis appear.  This is the kind of magic one would do for friends, and people they just met in a social situation if they really COULD bend the laws of reality around them.  And it’s because of this organic ingenuity that I love Jeff’s work.  This isn’t stage magic folks.  This is the real stuff that you do for real people, and this is the stuff that will melt minds far longer than the most knuckle busting shadow coin matrix because this is the kind of stuff that stays with people.  It eats away at them, it bothers them, it keeps them up at night, and it causes the voices in their own heads to speak up and challenge their grasp on what they think reality is.  Simple effects, but man do they work.

Here’s a quick look at the other tricks taught on this DVD.

Containmint: A visual transformation of orange flavor TicTak mints into mints of a different color.  I’m not a huge TicTak person, but they are a very common item.  Everyone knows what they are and the ability to visually change something like this into something else can be a really jarring experience for someone who isn’t ready for what’s going to happen.

Clasped: A borrowed finger ring vanishes and appears attached to the clasp of the magician’s necklace.  This is a classic effect, and the inspiration for this effects creation is very apparent.

Fuel: Logo’s jump around, vanish, appear, and travel on a standard Bic lighter.  The moves involved in this trick are classic and everyone should know how to do them, but the application is what is genius.  This trick is just bloody fun to play with.

Strawsome: This is a cleaver way to take a sip of a dark colored liquid from a straw during dinner at a fast food restaurant when you’re out with friends, and then like magic turn the contents of the cup into something completely contrasting in color!  This is a very cleaver method, and I have to give Jeff props for making it work.  I’ve seen similar plots from other young magicians and the simplicity of Jeff’s approach to solving this method is perfect.

IFlite: Not my favorite trick on the DVD but it’s a cute modernization of a ring flight.  You make a ring vanish and appear on the headphone cord while one end has been visually draped around your neck, and the other plugged into your cell phone / mp3 player.

Light Flight: This is another Bic lighter routine using a classic move.  I loved this as much as I did Fuel.

Creative Session: This is a neat little addition to the DVD.  You get a brief little fifteen minute one on one with Jeff as he talks about creativity, what it means to be creative, and how you can be more creative within your own magic.  It’s like a mini lecture!

So the down side to the DVD is that all the items you will be using as props you’ll need to make.  So there’s a considerable Arts ‘N Crafts commitment that goes along with performing any of the things found on this DVD.  The good news is the gimmicks are all easy enough to construct, I just personally hate having to go out and buy a bunch of crap after I’ve already bought the DVD in order to rehearse and perfect the magic there in.  With the exception of a few minor things needed for tricks like Flavorless and IFlite, most of the things you need can be purchased cheaply at your local super market.

The assembly of the props doesn’t take too long, and the sleight of hand that is needed to do most of these tricks is fairly minimal.  If you know how to work a Hot Rod, I think you’ll be set because that’s probably going to be the hardest move in this entire DVD.  Jeff has a pretty easy to learn from presence on the DVD, though I really wish the horror motif matched the contents.  I guess you can’t always have your cake and eat it too.

The magic in the DVD, as I’ve already said, is very organic.  So this is the perfect kind of stuff you’d want to do for friends and family or even complete strangers while you’re out and about during your daily lives.  Nothing on this DVD requires a huge set up, and most of it has just a very natural feel to it.  This is magic done with everyday items in a very non magical kind of set up.  This is very practical for urban or street settings but may not play so well on more formal stages.  This is actual magic designed to be used on the streets, not traditional close up effects portable enough to be carried with you anywhere you go.

Jeff Prace is a venerable genius when it comes to creating practical effects with everyday objects.  He knows where the magical moment is and he knows how to achieve that with his audiences.  You’re not going to see his material in a casino anytime soon but that’s probably a good thing.  This kind of underground, natural magic with everyday objects belongs on the streets anyways.  Maybe it’s come time that Jeff isn’t the only one listening to the voices in his head?  Maybe it’s time we start listening too.  Those voices have something to say and I highly recommend that you listen.

When I give my product scores below I am measuring them on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 Being absolute the worst score possible, and 10 being the absolute best, making a score of five average. The four points that I grade upon is Product Quality, Teaching Quality, Sound & Video Quality and Overall Quality.

Product Quality: 9
I hate building magic props.  When I pay money for a magic DVD the LAST thing I want to do is go out, after I get home, and assemble the things I need to practice the material on the DVD.  Fortunately the things you need are cheap, and can be found pretty easily.

Teaching Quality: 8
Jeff is easy to follow along with, and the magic is easy to master.

Video & Sound Quality: 5
I’m a fan of having the curtains match the interior so to speak.  That is to say I’m not a fan of the horror movie esque look and feel of the DVD, the ad copy, and the way the DVD was shot when the material couldn’t be farther from the bizarre and creepy.  The sound and video were excellent quality but the art direction was disappointing.

Overall Quality: 8
Jeff is organic and natural with his magic.  He’s a creative force to be reckoned with.  I really think more people should listen to the voices in his head because they’ve got some pretty cool things they want to talk about.  Don’t own Voices yet?  Get it while you still can.

Have a product you want reviewed?  Want to see if it will stand up to the Draven Seal of Approval?  Contact me directly at draven@williamdraven.com to find out how your product could be on the next Draven Reviews!

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About William Draven

William Draven is a professional magician and sideshow performer living in Los Angeles, California. Follow him on Twitter at WilliamDraven or on facebook at www.facebook.com/thewilliamdraven
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