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"Feature in Austin Chronicle 11/9/07"

taken from:


James Evans, the left-handed half of Transmography, is only half-kidding when he refers to his invented instrument of choice as "prepared guitar."

"I was attempting to create an electric percussion instrument using just guitar and metal," he expounds. "One of my old roommates worked at a construction site and was always bringing home these weird scraps, so I decided to plug it all in and give it a try."

Like an abstract artist throwing bits of paint at a blank canvas, Evans slashes and scrapes the cold steel, creating a junk pile of cacophonous sounds and rhythms. The guitar picks up the vibrations, which are then filtered through effects pedals and incorporated into Transmography's assortment of electronic instrumentals. It redefines "metal machine music," and when performed live, sparks fly.

"I can control the sustainability of the sound and even some of the pitches," Evans contends. "It turned out to be way more expressive than I was expecting. I've never played it the same way twice. That part of the show is always improvised."

Prepared guitar, however, is only one element in Transmography's ever-expanding palette of sound. The group originally formed in 2002 as an ambient, post-rock fourpiece but became increasingly more experimental as its members dwindled. Now Evans and percussionist Michael Frazier play musical chairs with instruments, taking turns on keyboards and drums (occasionally juggling both at once), while Evans lays down the low-end clutter on bass. Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of Transmography, though, is the duo's odd time changes, which play off the audience's expectations and need for resolution.

"We have a weird musical dialogue that's going on all the time," explains Frazier. "It really evolved on its own."

Recorded live at Matchbook Studios and released through the 8088 Record Collective, a nonexclusive digital-distribution network, Transmography's third album, Polydactyly, captures the duo's performances through eight inventive instrumentals that run the gamut from sweaty electro-punk workouts to drum 'n' bass suites akin to a Big Business/Don Caballero hybrid. They aim to push boundaries even further when they head back into the studio in December.

"I think our ultimate goal is to make people scratch their heads with one song and dance the next," Frazier concludes, "or both at the same time, if they're really talented." – Austin Powell - Austin Chronicle

"Austin Chronicle says..."

Text from:

09/28/07 @ Trophy's
Imagine if the two dudes from Superbad spent all their time making noise instead of trying to get laid. That's Transmography, a young Austin duo that creates instantly engaging, mostly instrumental soundscapes through live percussion, entrancing synth beats, and an assortment of warped guitars and pedals. This year's debut, Polydactyly, is equally ambient and assaulting.

AUSTIN POWELL - Austin Chronicle

"The Onion says..."

Text taken from: The Onion A.V. Club 10/11/07

"Electronic duo Transmography opens with synth-driven songs that are experimental, occasionally instrumental, and often just plain mental."

Sean O'Neal - The Onion

"Covert Curiousity says"

Text from:

"Transmography. I saw these guys at the Mohawk last night along with Haunting Oboe Music. Just two dudes in the band, but they make one hell of a racket. People were jumping up and down inside this tiny little space as the show seemed to get better and better with each song in their setlist. You don't see that very often at this venue on a Thursday night. I made sure to get my hands on their cd that came out in March called Polydactyly, which you can pick up/preview at the 8088 Record Collective website:" - Covert Curiousity

"Music is Happiness : Transmography Kicks My Ass"

I’m sitting in a bar in Austin, Texas, about to interview two men: James Evans and Michael Frazier, the buddy team that is the band Transmography. Transmography was a band I happened across while surfing MySpace sites for god-knows-what - some band’s page must have linked to theirs - and I was immediately taken with them. These two dudes produce between them an instrumental music that is by turns experimental and melodic, familiar sounding yet impossible to immediately classify. Although the tunes rely heavily on drums, guitar, and keyboards, their best trick is one that I describe as “climbing the mountain”: building a musical structure which starts out in calm, almost meditative beginnings, and which then coalesces into a pounding mixture of power chords and percussion. It’s anthemic stuff, but abstract, too. And all from just two guys!

An “experimental rock duo,” or so Jimmy describes the band to clueless club owners, Transmography started as a straight-up instrumental quartet before the band evolved into its present twosome, with Jimmy mostly playing the stringed instruments and Michael mostly drumming - although they tend to trade instruments now and again. Influenced by everything from Japanese pop to industrial music to rap, the duo had to work for a while to come up with their present sound. As Michael explains, “I listened to a lot of hip hop, especially when I was younger, as much as I listened to rock, so my drumming kind of fits with Jimmy’s dancey riffs that he comes up with. [Our music is] really dark in a way, but it’s really bright at the same time.” Jimmy has a similarly disparate background: “When I was like, 15, and I first started playing guitar, I really liked Sebadoh. I like !!! (Chk Chik Chick), and lately I’ve been listening to Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited.” He also notes, among his latest listens, Funkadelic, Mort Garson, Kraftwerk, and Out Hud.

This varied stew of musical influences, as well as exposure to local Arkansan (for Jimmy) and Texan (for Michael) bands of various stripes eventually led the two to their current radical modus operandi, in which they combine grinding noise and power chords with jazzy percussion and pop melodies. Unjustifiably excluded from a slot at 2007’s SXSW, they none-the-less produced a heart-stopping set at a free showcase organized by their label, the 8088 Records Collective. Which is, what, exactly? “It’s a cooperative, and you get out of it what you put into it, but it’s not exclusive, anyone can link their music to it and sell their music in the [on-line] store,” says Jimmy.

“It’s non-binding, and what you put into it is what you get out,” continues Michael. “We do most of the promotion, but right now it’s more like a show trading network.” Being involved in a larger cooperative enterprise has helped Transmography make connections to bands in other cities, but it’s also given them the expansive vision that’s necessary in order to weather the often divided reaction that they get from out-of-town audiences. “[Audiences react in] one of two ways,” Jimmy acknowledges. “One, people either walk out of the venue or, Two, people are just mesmerized and completely awed by it, and a lot of people say that… they see that we’re doing something different.”

One listen to their new record, Polydactyly (8088), the first with the two-man lineup, helps to explain the band’s powerful, but occasionally off-putting, effect on the uninitiated. At barely 30 minutes, the record’s eight tracks cover a lot of musical ground, and the variety among tracks doesn’t allow the listener to relax for an instant. Huge, loud, metallic statements such as “Slimeline” alternate with calmer keyboard-dominated pieces such as “Calerpa.” Perhaps the most abrupt stylistic shift comes in the record’s second half. Sandwiched between the brief drumming workout, “Heal Thy Fish,” and the contemplative guitar and percussion-click sprawl of “Jolly Rancher,” comes “Bhopal,” perhaps Transmography’s sharpest left-turn move. Named for the 1984 Union Carbide chemical-spill disaster in that Indian city, the track is three-and-a-half minutes of syncopated metal scraping on metal, accompanied by computer-generated outbursts and wildly varied drumming from Michael.

The tunes grew out of the pair’s musical collaborations, but each one had its own unusual genesis. “IceCreamManFromJapan,” a slowly-building masterpiece of controlled tension in live performance, came about from a composition exercise. “We used up all the black keys on it, which is an ‘eastern’ scale, and the tune sounded like what an ice cream truck would sound like in Japan… I guess,” laughs Jimmy. “Prime Numbers,” a series of rising and falling piano scales accompanied by some of Frazier’s most inventive drumming had, as the title suggests, a similar origin. “The pattern is sort of based on prime numbers,” says Jimmy, as Michael adds “There are a lot of prime-number-like hits in the middle, the syncopation. Um… a weird math thing going on.”

Logical contrivances aside, however, Transmography’s music never comes off as cold or artificial. In a live performance that followed our interview, Evans and Frazier pulled out all the stops, switching off instruments and producing squalls of noise and pounding riffs that unmercifully smacked the audience about the face and neck. The show concluded with an aggressive new number whose climax was Jimmy’s shouted refrain, “Break out of your cocoon!” You got it, boys. We yield.
-Noah Mass - Austin Sound


Polydactyly (CDLP) released 3/07

Coming Soon- 7 inch single released in UK by Moshi Moshi Singles Club.

Coming Soon- 12 inch EP released by Austin, TX micro-indie label, Australian Cattle God Records.



----from "The unlikely sound of Transmography has been perplexing and mesmerizing Austin for the past year, unpacking an industrial thwamp of experimental rock that coheres in abstract rhythms and explosive instrumental freak-outs. The duo of James Evans and Michael Frazier combine for a cacophonic sweep that is almost unimaginable for simply two players, and to watch them trade guitar, drums, bass, synth and electronic duties throughout their cathartic live sets is almost overwhelming. Last year Transmography released their debut, Polydactyly through the artist collective 8088, which unleashed equal parts ambient meditations and furiously pounding syncopations of metal scrapes and junk-punk percussive anthems. The duo is currently recording new material for release later in 2008."

From feature----->>> "Unjustifiably excluded from a slot at 2007’s SXSW, they none-the-less produced a heart-stopping set at a free showcase organized by the 8088 Record Collective." -Noah Mass,

James Evans and Michael Frazier met in Austin, TX, September 2002. Transmography came into being in February 2003. They have toured the US from LA to NYC and plan to continue the journey as long as it engages them. They are not easily compared to other musical groups.

The debut record " Polydactyly" was released in March 2007 by Brooklyn, NY based 8088 records.

Check out this link to multi-angled video of live show from Emo's Austin, 7/25/08 w/ HEALTH