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Get It Tron

Genghis Tron's fans must have strong spines, because the group's habit of abruptly switching from melodic electronic passages to hardcore explosions is capable of producing whiplash in concert settings. Too bad the musicians don't get more of a chance to enjoy seeing dozens of necks cracking simultaneously.

"The music is so intense, and it takes so much concentration when we're playing live, that unless people are really, really freaking out, we usually don't notice," says Mookie Singerman, the band's appropriately named singer-man. "We have to keep our heads focused on what we're doing."

The Tronsters developed their ability to mete out mayhem in a most unlikely place -- Vassar College, a highbrow institution based in the bucolic New York state community of Poughkeepsie -- and their backgrounds are just as improbable. Singerman, who also handles keyboards for the group, and multi-instrumentalist Michael Sochynsky weren't music majors; they concentrated on film and history, respectively. As for cohort Hamilton Jordan Jr., he's the son of Hamilton Jordan, who served as White House chief of staff under President Jimmy Carter -- a fact that makes lyrics such as "Unleash the pervert's song," from "Sing Disorder," even more enjoyable.

According to Singerman, the band formed "almost by accident. Hamilton and Michael had been talking about doing some kind of brutal grind project, and since I lived with Michael, they asked me to sing on one of the songs. That turned into a three-song demo that we sent out, but we didn't think anything would come of it."

Wrong. Crucial Blast, an independent label, quickly signed the performers, even though they'd never played a show and had no tunes aside from the ones on the demo. As a result, 2005's Cloak of Love is exceedingly short (it's just twelve minutes in length) and more scattershot than Singerman would prefer. He still likes "Laser Bitch," Cloak's best-known track, which switches from vocoder-infused Eurodisco to fire-breathing death metal at its midsection, but he calls it "unbelievably lazy songwriting. It's fun, but it's gimmicky because of the way it's split directly down the middle."

The material on Dead Mountain Mouth, an impressive full-length that recently hit stores, holds together better, in part because it's less dependent on cut-and-paste techniques. Take "Lake of Virgins," which transitions from comparatively melodic passages to aural rage with a skill and sophistication that was beyond the boys mere months earlier. Singerman chalks up the change to greater seriousness of purpose. "We wanted to turn the band on its head and make things a lot more cohesive -- make a really fluid album that would stand on its own rather than just having one or two good songs," he says.

Not that Genghis Tron's bumpy musical journey has suddenly turned into a smooth ride. Singerman acknowledges that the players still enjoy "jumping from genre to genre -- and we love the element of surprise."

For that reason, Tron boosters had better limber up before going to shows. Because their necks are in for a workout.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts