Maryland-born trio Trans Am has been around so long their ’90s conceptions of gridded technology corridors and cocaine computers have become our way-too-plugged-in present. Of course, their references to “the future” have always been a mix of Tron-like ’80s ATARI nostalgia, science fiction, vocoder, and smart-ass irony. I remember interviewing them for a small Canadian newspaper around 1997’s Surrender To The Night, asking if 1996’s “Orlando” was inspired by Virginia Woolf, and having them respond no, she was a “Modernist hack.” I should’ve expected it: They were weaned on POMO. The band’s new album Thing continues pushing toward a kitschy future. It supposedly began as something “commissioned as a sci-fi, horror adaptation of Romeo And Juliet,” but when funding dried up, they turned it into their own project. And, as far as peering into the future, the swirling spaceman robo-rock of “Apparent Horizon” is a good fit, sonically and via its eye-squinting title.
Thing is out 4/20 via Thrill Jockey. We’re told it features some interesting recording techniques:
For half of the tracks on Thing, Trans Am utilized a recording/composition strategy known as “Zombification.” Once a song was recorded, each of the band members (as well as anybody else in the studio at the time) would record multiple additional tracks without any reference to the previous ones. The song then forgot itself – and was almost unlistenable. After cellaring the un-dead music for up to a year, Trans Am would begin to peel back the layers of the song, usually arriving at something completely different.
One of Thing’s requirements was that each track contain a completely non-musical element, preferably something with a sonic signature that was not even necessarily a sound.
Listen to “Apparent Horizon” again and see what you find. And there are these shows:
04/15 – Washington, DC @ Rock and Roll Hotel #
04/16 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s #
04/17 – New York, NY @ Santos Partyhouse #
04/18 – Brooklyn, NY @ Market Hotel #
04/19 – Cambridge, MA @ Middle East Downstairs #
04/20 – Montreal, QC @ La Sala Rossa #
04/21 – Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern #
04/22 – Pontiac, MI @ Crofoot Ballroom #
04/23 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle #
04/24 – Cincinnati, OH @ Northside Tavern $
w/ # With Nice Nice and Jonas Reinhardt
w/ $ With just Nice Nice