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Review: Kilgore Trout, 'Maniacs from the 4th Dimension in the Era of Hopeful Monsters

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Kilgore Trout
Maniacs from the 4th Dimension in the Era of Hopeful Monsters

I’m not sure what kind of music Kurt Vonnegut enjoyed, or if he even actively partook in the form. But I’d like to think if he were still around to hear Indianapolis band Kilgore Trout, he’d appreciate the tribute.

The quartet takes its name from a fictional character who appeared in many of Vonnegut’s books. Their debut album, Maniacs from the 4th Dimension in the Era of Hopeful Monster, also is a winking nod to the type of science fiction Vonnegut practically invented.

Kilgore Trout’s music is blues-steeped. The song “Zodiac Man” features torrid, extended turns by lead guitarist Johnny Ping that could be a sensory experience in a place like The Slippery Noodle, as notable a landmark in Indianapolis as Vonnegut is a character.

But there’s plenty of psychedelica and other touches to make Maniacs from the 4th Dimension stand out from tradition, including the acoustic-based You Let Me Down” and the space-age honky-tonk of “Thought I Was An Outlook” featuring a rickety guitar solo that threatens any number of unexpected twists. Yes, just like a Vonnegut story.

“So It Goes” is an out-and-out homage to Vonnegut, lo-fi discordance that speaks to Vonnegut’s philosophies about our existence. Just like its inspiration, though, the members of Kilgore Trout don’t take themselves too seriously. That includes the album cover, featuring some of the best animation this side of Futurama.

As part of Banned Books Week, Kilgore Trout will perform Sept. 26 outside the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, 340 N. Senate Ave. Gates open 6:30 p.m. and the music begins at 7. All ages are welcome.

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