The Transgressors

Borne out of the West Texas desert on a dry wind of mistrust and dissatisfaction, the Transgressors stepped boldly into Austin with a notion to blow the roof off the town’s stolid music scene. Six compatriots with a taste for the macabre, they were mortified by the shallow background music they encountered and set about creating a body of work drawn from the tales of death and betrayal that litter the Texas landscape. They took their name, the Transgressors, from the work of Jim Thompson, a man whose grasp of brutality and the subtleties thereof is immeasurable. Their determination was fierce, but rather than show their hand with wild cries and displays of bravado, they kept their malice slung low on their hips, a reflection of their style. The six bided their time, honing their skills in respectable groups like the Golden Arm Trio, Chris Black and the Holy Ghost and Enduro, but eventually the malignant impulse started to gnaw at them like the dull itching of a long amputated limb.

There was a cold wind off of the Colorado the night the six convened to mount their attack. The townspeople, unaccustomed to the bitter weather, were wrapped tight in garments of all fashions, and as they entered there could be seen an array of corduroy, leather, synthetic fur, and mohair. The chosen space was a burnt-out warehouse that had been converted into a low rent theater. As the tittering of the crowd settled into an uneasy silence, the lights were lowered and the solemn dirge of an electric guitar issued forth from the darkness. At the burst of snare drum that followed, a lone footlight came up at the front of the stage. It revealed a tall, slender figure, standing stone still in the light. As the music gained momentum, the man began to howl in a dark baritone that seemed to issue from the very caverns of the underworld. Suddenly, the lights came on full, and the six commenced a fevered crashing, pouring their measured hatred into the music. The crowd sat immobilized, as if touched by the cold hand of a black angel. The songs were simple: straightforward tales of loss and misery, of grievances inflicted and repaid. But the arrangements were dynamic, ranging from stark dirges and rigid marches to swelling passages of bombastic majesty. Slowly, the townspeople began to become unglued. People flooded out of the warehouse, running helter skelter. Flames were seen to erupt from no traceable spark. As the six pried the last notes of music from their battered instruments, the town had been reduced to cinders. Their work was done. As they looked toward the horizon, the only thing visible was the morbid incandescence of blackfire unleashed.