Review: MentalGram by Nefesch

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Reviewer: Madame Curator”][vc_column_text]If you’re like me, an unapologetic social media junkie who loves using Instagram as a visual diary every day, you’ll enjoy performing this contemporary mentalism piece by El Salvadorian hypnotist/ mentalist, Nefesch.

I first met Nefesch in Italy back in April/ May 2012 when we were based in Rome for a month, filming for a hugely successful television show called La Grande Magia (The Illusionist), watched by millions. He’s a nice, easygoing guy and we hung out quite often after filming. In fact, Nefesch’s life story greatly intrigued me, but that’s a story for another time…

Over the years, besides his main bread-and-butter work as a consultant, Nefesch has put out many of his own creations on the market and MentalGram is his latest mentalism offering. For US$20 you get an instructional download video about 1.5 hour long, teaching three techniques using Instagram to read your participant/ spectator’s mind or to make a prediction.

The last of the three (Treadmill) is one specifically engineered for stage work with an interesting dual reality principle, while the first two techniques (Anchor & Backfire) are for close-up/ walk around magic. Having retired from the professional stage last year after a decade in showbiz, safe to say, I’d definitely be using the Anchor and Backfire.

So what’s the difference between the two? Basically, presentation wise, Anchor has them call stop anytime with you making the swipes (smartphone facing them and you looking away), while in Backfire they are the ones who do the scrolling with the smartphone facing down (so you both don’t know where they stop until you show it to them with your head turned away/ eyes closed).

It all appears extremely fair and honest and the demo video is an accurate depiction of what to expect. You can use their Instagram account or yours; their smartphone or yours, it doesn’t matter- as long as it’s an Android or iPhone, no Blackberrys- since there is no special app requirement (besides the official Instagram app, duh) and you can really do this on the fly. Obviously you’ll need to be connected to the Internet or Wi-Fi for Instagram to work, but that goes without saying… LOL

The moves required do work but will take you some time to practice the “sleights” to nail it perfectly, as well as, guts to perform the moves under pressure. But it is clever and I like the effect, especially since we live in a 21st century society where almost everyone uses a mobile phone and Instagram is known to be one of the most popular social media tools currently out there, besides Facebook and Twitter… at least in my part of the world.

Production quality is the same as all (if not most) of Nefesch’s stuff on the market. The instant download feels homemade and personal, no swanky effects or fancy studio lighting, just simple edits using a single fixed camera.

I’ve no technical gripes with the instructional video as the audio is okay but it would have been better if Nefesch used a clip mic so his voice quality would sound clearer, especially when he turns to face away to a side and his voice becomes echoey. Some bits at the start could have been streamlined tighter too, but I guess it lends a charm of having the feel of a buddy giving you a one-on-one magic tutorial via Skype.

While I applaud Nefesch for his English since it is not his native language, I must point out the fact that whenever he says Instagram “feedback”, he really means your main “feed” on the app. It’s a small tiny detail, but it did confuse me initially, so I thought I’d just put it out there just in case there are others who may be wondering about that.

Mental mind magic spectacle aside, Nefesch did pitch MentalGram as a business/ branding marketing tool as well. I guess it would no doubt work, since you can kindly request to have them follow you on Instagram right after you perform this great mind reading trick 🙂

In all, I really enjoyed MentalGram. It is well thought through and Nefesch gives alternative handling and force techniques, so there’s something to suit everyone; no matter if you’re a close-up guy or stage performer. There’s no gimmicks to buy, gaffs to build; all you need is your nimble fingers, gift of gab, a working brain and their mobile phone with Instagram on.

Good job Nefesch! Can’t wait for your next one!

Please support intellectual property. Only buy original. Available directly from the artist.

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Ning Cai is a Singapore Literature Prize nominated author, who was also long listed for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize in 2016. A bestselling writer, she is also recognised for her illusionist/ escapologist stage character Magic Babe Ning, and recognised by Channel News Asia as South East Asia's first professional female magician.

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