Inventive Manifesto

Skrappy's hosts an up-and-coming band that's trying to again redefine what music is

The music of the band Genghis Tron emanates from, and speaks to, a cultural age defined by ADHD.

Depending on your perspective, listeners afflicted with a difficulty in maintaining attention and/or a tendency toward hyperactivity are likely to find either a kindred aesthetic or a vehicle for further energization in the music of this 20-something trio from Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

In promotional material for its debut EP, 2005's Cloak of Love, the band's music was compared to the result of an unholy union of Napalm Death and Depeche Mode. A review of that disc edged closer by referencing The Dillinger Escape Plan spliced with elements from the tunes of Bjork and Radiohead.

Other print reviews mentioned as reference points acts such as Public Image Ltd., Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Erasure, the Beastie Boys, Funkadelic, Brutal Truth, King Crimson, Andy Summers, New Order, John Zorn and Naked City and the genre-smashing prog-metal-noise band Infidel?/Castro!

Despite all the diverse name-dropping, the five songs on Cloak of Love seemed to have been created by an inspired, though still-wet-behind-the-ears, group of pals with divergent musical interests who were still trying to forge a distinct style.

Genghis Tron's lack of refinement was balanced by an immense potential. Critics and fans patiently waited for a focused, sophisticated and sustained statement of the band's inventive manifesto.

It has arrived with Dead Mountain Mouth, the trio's debut full-length CD, which was released in June by Crucial Blast Records and is a monumental achievement of transcendent noise. Here is an extreme form of music that sounds like no other and sounds differently each time you listen.

The band will play Tuesday night, Sept. 12, at the downtown all-ages club Skrappy's, third on a bill that also will include the acts One Night Massacre, Blues for the Martyr and A Desired Affliction.

On the new album, Genghis Tron plays short, assaultive bursts of ultra-fast grindcore and intensely technical math metal, alternating with atmospheric digressions into electronica or IDM (intelligent dance music).

The effect, to these ears, is not unlike what one might imagine hearing at a jam session featuring Converge, Fântomas, Terminator X, Slayer and Squarepusher.

A description on the surprisingly reliable aptly stated that Genghis Tron "... forms something new, something more cohesive and fluid, an arcane union of digital dreams and brutal heaviness, where speedcore outbursts blossom from clouds of maximum beat-driven bliss and futuristic metalcore riffage seethes from your speakers." Word.

Produced by Kurt Ballou, of the mighty punk-metal act Converge, Dead Mountain Mouth was recorded using a combination of guitars, synthesizers, computers, lap steel and bass, with high-pitched, haunted shrieks taking the place of traditional vocals. The band members are known to the world only as Mookie, Michael and Hamilton.

The band does not use a human drummer. In a live setting, they employ instead the drum-loop program FL Studio (a staple of laptop electronica and dance music) and electronic triggers to create the brutal rhythms.

During the last 40 or so years, the extreme fringes of the music world have worked to challenge and redefine our concepts of what constitutes "music": from free jazz to Neu!, from the Silver Apples to Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, from Eno's ambient compositions to the No Wave scene in New York, from punk to hip-hop, to today's avant-garde composers (Zorn, Mike Patton) to noisemongers such as Lightning Bolt and Black Dice.

With a name that alludes both to a ruthless 12th-century Mongol conqueror and to the early Disney view of cyberspace, Genghis Tron is struggling to redefine music in terms of not only what its creators hear in their heads but in terms of their reaction to the dizzying out-of-balance world around us.

On the album's centerpiece, the majestic "White Walls," that shredded voice howls a beat-generation-cum-cyberpunk lament: "... Great insidious sound! Leave me! Leave me be! / Lately you've found that I break between white walls that burn the nerves / No noise can shake me but I feel me breaking ... ."

It's a shame many otherwise open-minded music buffs may avoid hearing Genghis Tron this time through Tucson, because such a challenging act will be playing at Skrappy's, a "youth-empowered performing arts center" at which the average age is probably 18, and there's not a drop of alcohol to be found.

Adventurous listeners could well be rewarded for showing up, even if they do look old enough--as I did last Saturday night when I wandered into the club unchallenged--to be dropping off a station wagon full of teenagers.

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