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Absolute beginners again

Like a Hypercard stack on a Mac Classic, Tyro (it means "beginner," they'll tell you) layer sounds that work in a rhythmically rigid grid — if-then statements triggering samplers and old four-track tapes.

But Tyro are no beginners. Husband and wife duo Skipper and Katie Hartley were both members of the Atlanta band Toenut, a band that was part of the spatial landscape that nurtured Man or Astro-Man? and Servotron, as well as being one of the first bands signed to Mute America. After the unfortunate death of Toenut bassist Chris Collins, the band toured behind their second album Two In The Piata, then parted ways, though some former Toenut members/collaborators, including Richie Edelson and Andy Baker, appear on Tyro's debut, Audiocards. Brian Teasley, (aka Man or Astro-Man's Birdstuff), sits in on drums for half the album, while Jeff Sullivan, another Toenut alum (who also mans the traps for drivin 'n' cryin'), plays on the rest. Skipper's brother Jason Hartley helps out on bass, and Timer the cat controls the loops.

Audiocards seems to have more swing and less sting than Toenut material, though the vocals still hold the frenetic fragility of the Breeders and the Cocteau Twins. Voices fuzz and flow from one channel to another as guitars perform melodic test patterns. The sound of the album is like that of jerky, static-buzzed Television, projecting a spectrograph of the peaks and valleys of the interstellar surf docking bay of Georgia in the late-'90s. Post-Toenut, post-punk, Tyro have put together an album that recalls their past but is also a good starting point for beginners.

Tyro play their CD release party at the Echo Lounge, Fri., Sept. 22.



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