Live & Local

Now, this is noise. Local duo the Transsexuals play like they’ve never heard the word “song” before, and when special guest Philip Krumm — a St. Mary’s alum avant-garde composer whose credentials make excellent reading for an exercise in humility — cranks up the custom-made box o’ electronic mayhem the Transsexuals apparently keep on hand, it sounds like he’s pull-starting a gas-powered weed eater. You can stuff your request for a set list, or even a time signature, straight up your ass, because you’re getting whatever sounds these guys make — Krumm twisting knobs, Kurt Knouse playing Japanese designer instrument the tenori-on (the product of a drunken threesome between an iPad, a Tetris game, and a synthesizer) and Troy Curry scratching electric guitar strings with a Swiss Army knife.

I can’t tell you, officially, when they stopped tuning up and began playing. Curry, who lays his guitar face-up on his lap, scratches the strings like he’s sending an urgent telegram: “To whom it may concern, I’m trapped inside a drum machine.” That’s Knouse’s handiwork, but he won’t get the message. Krumm, sitting between the two, unleashes a flock of crank-snorting whippoorwills to jam the signal. This bypasses avant-garde to settle on straight-up nihilism. The “music” dares you to keep listening, defies you to reassemble it all into something digestible.

Curry’s guitar chimes like an atomic death clock (calibrated for up-to-the-minute accuracy) while Krumm’s blipping demonstrates what it’d be like to live inside the cabinet of a maladjusted Asteroids arcade game. Everyone in the audience (a bunch of hipsters who look like they’d stab you if you called them that) bobs his or her head, entranced — either that or they’re waiting for it all to end. Except for one lady, who has her hands clasped unabashedly over her ears.

Knouse establishes a beat that’s part New Age water-glass fingering and part Guqin decapitation, a la Kung Fu Hustle, only to have it obliterated by Krumm’s combination jackhammer/slide whistle. The term “rock ’n’ roll” does not apply here. These guys literally would’ve been arrested in the 1950s. In circa-1692 Salem, they’d have been burned at the stake.

The trio produces a combination of noises that sounds like they’re stopping a high-speed ceiling fan with an infant’s soft-spotted skull. Knouse and Curry establish a cybertronic symphonic jam, but it’s almost instantly blown apart by Krumm’s laser attack. So it goes.

The Transsexuals say they’ve been playing together for more than three years, and in that time they’ve booked a total of four gigs, at least half of them in Austin. I believe it. Must be hard to find a venue for this kind of thing.

“Oh, we’re never, ever like this,” Knouse explains after the show. “We normally play songs.” At their other gigs, Knouse played the organ, and we’re assuming Curry put his knife away. “We do ballads and Pet Shop Boys covers.”

The Transsexuals
(with Philip Krumm)
Wed, Jun 2
Smart Art Space
1906 S. Flores


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