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RTX - Transmaniacon

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Artist: RTX

Album: Transmaniacon

Label: Drag City

Review date: Oct. 20, 2004

Since Royal Trux’s silent implosion in 2001, guitarist/right-brain Neil Haggerty has unveiled a middle name, formed and fled boogie-shamble band Weird War after one self-titled disc, and scorched his way through seven records, solo and with the Howling Hex, all the while nearing the decade-long output of his prior conviction in only three years. Now. Trux-redux trio RTX finds nicotine chanteuse/left-brain Jennifer Herrema issuing her first record untouched by Haggerty’s warped lasers.

The cover of RTX’s debut reads as a self-reflexive riddle on Herrema’s predicament. What first appears an awkwardly sentimental image – two flayed skulls grafted together at the nose and mouth in lepidopteran symmetry, evoking the Trux’s glimmer twin infinitives of Haggerty and Herrema – is actually a single noggin sliced in half and folded out. Indeed. Transmaniacon is a Herrema brain scan as heavy-metal Rosarch blotch.

Replacing Haggerty’s sticky-fingered harmolodics with tittybar powerchord chomps and mega-kit propulsions from longhairs Jaimo Welch and Nadav Eisenman, respectively, RTX finds Herrema lathering the Trux’s Martian sludge with a platinum sheen. Pushing Pro-Tools to thundercrackle, Transmaniacon is unabashedly over-tweaked, spiking its vibrant FM hooks with a methy murk.

From the devil-horned stomp of “Low Ass Mountain Song” to the flanged float of “Heavy Gator,” RTX is the steroidal upgrade, and devolution, of the Trux’s art-jazz scuzz. Indeed, with its maxed-harmonizer octave trilling and stadium-ballad breadth, “PB+J” glitches Kid Rock’s MOR side.

While the Trux scavenged the boneyards of rock seeking the raw material through which they could transmit their sickazz frequencies, RTX digitizes computer flesh on the skeletons and lets the hyper-real muscle flex away vainly. We were better off with the real thing, gloriously ugly and perfectly splotched.

By Bernardo Rondeau

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