I've seen Fire and I've seen Rain
July 31, 2003
What is it like to be a bat?

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Likely the first album to be named in honor of philosopher Thomas Nagel, "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?" is the debut release by this self-described "digital-chamber-punk" band of the same name. The brain-child of composer Kitty Brazelton (who also sings and plays bass and keyboards) and composer Dafna Naphtali (who sings and plays guitar and laptop computer), this entertaining and unpredictable group also features drummer-percussionist Danny Tunick and Paul Geluso, a sound sculptor who reshapes the music.

Together, they create what has been dubbed "21st-century schizoid music" by one wry observer. Frenzied one moment, stately the next, "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?" suggests a carefully planned jam session between John Zorn and Frank Zappa at a John Cage tribute concert curated by Laurie Anderson. Equally informed by punk brashness, dadaist sensibilities and contemporary classical music run amok, the 18-track album is divided into two segments, "She Said—She Said, Can You Sing Sermonette With Me?" and "5 Dreams: Marriage."

Operatic fragments collide, then are combined, with electronica, rock, avant-garde experimentalism, computer music and more. Brazelton and Naphtali compose and perform with equal precision, fire and whimsy, and the manner in which they weave live and recorded voices and instruments is both ingenious and invigorating.

George Vargas

related links:

"What Is It Like To Be A Bat?" the band

"What Is It Like To Be A Bat?" the CD

Tzadik, the label

Other CDs by Kitty Brazelton

Kitty Brazelton, composer

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