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Trans Am – Thing

Thrill Jockey

Trans Am - Thing sleeveWow, this is a really different kind of Trans Am album. But wow in general, too, it’s also a pretty fucking great album. The first thing that struck me about Thing was its soundtrack-like quality. At points it is more like a vision of Blade Runner rather than the electro rock we know and love from Trans Am.

Thing began life as project for a sci-fi horror adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. The project never happened, but Trans Am continued with their album exploring lots of directions. To ensure the sufficient feeling of exhaustion and paranoia Trans Am stayed in their studio until the early hours of the morning. Now that’s the kind of commitment I like to see in a band. It reminds me of Steve Vai fasting for seven days before recording a track. Generally Thing is very tight and electronic, although it sounds broken and abrupt. A number of short tracks are doomy apocalyptic shards; music that never gets going and ends in inertia. The most frantic and frenetic moment on the album is “Heaven’s Gate,” which is absolutely fantastic – I love this track. It’s just pure insanity: a headlong free form rush of drums and noise guitar.

In the middle of all this dark dystopian sci-fi rock comes the real surprises, with tracks like “Space Dock” and “Interstellar Drift” which are really light and upbeat, in a sort of half-lucid way. Somewhere in all the sleep deprivation a dreamy lighter side of Trans Am emerged. I really wasn’t expecting that, but then I really wasn’t expecting Thing either. Its so different to 2009’s live release What Day Is It Tonight?, which looks back over their career. Thing doesn’t look back – but boes it look forward? I don’t know. I’m not sure if Trans Am knew where they were looking when Thing escaped. It’s hallucinatory, and brilliant.

-Alaric-

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