Agitated Atmosphere: Kitty - Kitty

Agitated Atmosphere, Album Reviews
04/03/2015
Justin Spicer

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Kitty.The first question you’ll ask: which Kitty is this?

For many of you, it’s one that existed on the fringe of 90's music culture. The Austin, Texas-based trio that formed in 1994 never had a formal release. Theirs was an existence tied to a location and time that seems so far removed from what we’ve come to label as 90’s music. Yet as time and archaeology has unearthed the decade in the modern era, it turns out many of us missed out on the future when it was right in front of us.

Seattle’s Medical Records compiles the unreleased compendium of Kitty in this eponymous full-length that will blow the mind of anyone who stumbles upon it. Mixing the house and electronic music of early 90’s Europe, 80’s dance, and 70’s psychedelia into the alternative wrapper of its time, it’s surprising that Kitty never made it onto Kranky. The galactic evolution discovered with each listen is a treat, not because it’s a museum artifact of a time gone by but rather Kitty is still a forward moving puzzle piece that has yet to find where it fits.

Album openers “Harrison” and “Eva” are bubbly takes on electronic dance, eschewing some of the more redundant heaviness of early techno in favor of dance rock. Too bad we were all wallflowers. But the happy-go-lucky attitude doesn’t last, as the droning synth of “Kinski” disintegrates the good times for an experimental smash; an angry representation of Basinski (and perhaps the impetus for the Seattle band’s formation). “Cobraverde” goes its own way as well, a minimal take on psychedelic tropes that precursor the tribal rhythms of Robedoor.

Kitty had a vision: to always challenge the direction they seemed to be headed. The progression of this compilation is the most vivid portrayal of a band’s evolution as I can remember – and sadly, it was one ignored by anyone that didn’t travel the I-35 corridor in the mid-90’s. Possess it now but view it not as a piece of history, but a catalyst for another revolution that cares not what the pop stars and underground are doing.

Justin Spicer is an editor and journalist who writes for Tiny Mix Tapes and Ad Hoc among others. You can find him on Twitter.

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