TransFX & The Showroom Dummies
TranFX is pleased to announce the release of their fifth full-length studio album, Trans FX & The Showroom Dummies , a collaboration on the part of Chris McDonnell (the group’s writer, producer, main performer and sole constant member) with Olympian talents Lillian Maring, Valerie Warren and Abby Dahlquist . Half of the tracks receive vocal treatment from McDonnell, who gets the remainder fit for display by his model accomplices. The fruit of this procedure—a well-balanced but provisional ensemble, one sonically beholden to local legend recording engineer Captain Tripps Ballsington—is most expedient for TFX. Following a period of intensified artistic independence and solitary refinement over the past few years, the project has come to exist and produce in a manner which points irresistibly past its own means and makes few concessions for those unable to keep up. McDonnell’s obscure status confirms that any such prolific campaign of amorphous experimentation will inevitably have its public and commercial consequences. While his robust commitment to resurfacing redemptive aspects of the pop music idiom is undeniably at work in TFX, its destitution of any generic reenactment or stable set of references presents the music-industrial complex (which ultimately amounts to a gigantic toy factory) with a certain anomaly, since we know that under the present regime of recognition-value, and to the extent that everything becomes explainable and criticizable, nothing is supposed to happen anymore at all. And so it’s no surprise that precisely because of its own singular and derisory mode of taking place, irremediably affected by the aporias of ‘Generation X’ and its unsavory, déjà vu-like fallout in the northwestern United States, Trans FX loses the sympathies of those semiocrats tasked with arbitrating the newly demokratized marketplace, which anyways is totally uninhabitable. Meanwhile, Chris’s blurred visage plots war. And this as the music is as elaborated as ever. Right on the surface of a track like “The Common Good/Is It Ever Enough?” reads an uncanny sophistication, a sensible gesture that frees up the detritus of forms it makes so prodigal a use of: a derelict breakbeat, a half-sampled symphony, a pithy existential SOS. “Sunday Morning” (Reed/Cale) is obliged to dance, and Lou himself is invoked over a carefully fucked up beat in “Something Better.” It’s funny that “The Way It Sounds” will probably not receive major radio airplay. Warren masterfully closes out the album with the full-on anthem “I’m a Dreamer (Denny)” and, together with McDonnell, on the coolly disquieting “Vertigo.” Showroom Dummies marks another if not to date the most accomplished Trans FX release, a fresh record proving both how far the project has come and has to go, which we can humbly and in good faith welcome into this world.