MUSIC REVIEW | Transitional Species, HACK, Surgery at the Hands of Machines and Lazarus Long at the Kitty Cat Klub


The Kitty Cat Klub is great for a wide range of entertainment. Sunday night I saw a few experimental bands or bands that at least defy traditional labels or grouping. The set lists were abbreviated since Freddy Fresh took over the bar at midnight to shoot a video. (Always kind of fun!) But it was enough time to get a taste of each act.

I walked in just in time to see Lazarus Long play briefly – too briefly really. I was just getting the groove and it was over–but I liked the solo bass with reverb. It was loud and rhythmic.   

Hack was next with a synthesized violin–a very dark but cool looking violin. The sound was as much about the reverb and synthesized reaction to the music as the music itself. In fact the violin was played with apparent ease while so much concentration seemed to go into trying to control the sound of the violin with synthesizers. Watching someone play experimental music always reminds me of looking at sketchbooks of great abstract painters because you see the ease of doing something traditionally and the work of making it new.

After Hack came Transitional Species, playing a series of metal singing bowls. The synthesized bowls always sound like an underwater shipwreck expedition to me. It’s otherworldly and a little ghostly and cold. It’s fun to watch the music because again the effort seems to be in controlling the sound, not making the sound. As much effort seems to go into a firm grasp of the bowl as much as how the bowl is played with a bow or stick. As a bonus, Hack and Transitional Species also played together which seemed like a natural pairing to me since both have a sound that reminds me of the water. Together they produce a shared  rhythm that somehow adds a warmth despite the fact that individually I find their music cold or distancing. Warm, cold one it’s necessarily better but it’s interesting to feel the difference together.

Headlining the show was Surgery at the Hands of Machines, which was more techno-tainted electronic rock. Except there was more depth than a lot of techno music. It was very high brow music, the kind you’d hear at an art gallery gala or late night private club. Each song had a very different flavor from Bollywood to a 70s rock vibe. Apparently they were actually missing a member so the band consisted of strings, keyboard and computer. And while it took the musicians just a few seconds to envelope the computer sounds, they did and made the music more personal and more appealing to me than a lot of techno music I’ve heard. It’s still very danceable, but not predictable as electronic rock can be. 

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