You've been pining for Stringfellow Hawke, the narrow-eyed helicopter pilot played by Jan-Michael Vincent on NBC's "Airwolf" circa 1986...

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Nightclub review |

You’ve been pining for Stringfellow Hawke, the narrow-eyed helicopter pilot played by Jan-Michael Vincent on NBC’s “Airwolf” circa 1986. You’ve been reliving the climactic Jet Ski chase from “Thunder in Paradise,” the 1994 straight-to-video action flick starring Hulk Hogan.

If not, Truckasauras is prepared to remind you. The Seattle techno-rock quartet stomped through a special set at Neumo’s last night. Taking the place of their usual 808 drum machine was an actual drum kit manned by an actual human. Typically the band plays all-analog electronic instruments: a rejiggered Gameboy scrolling through Nintendo-tone notes, a Commodore 64 chip melded to a MIDI keyboard, and that classic 808 boom and bap. The live drummer was a welcome twist, pounding out like bas-relief the contrast between human and machine.

The trash culture iconography — professional wrestlers and beefcake actors, Foxy Boxers and big-budget explosions — was provided by the group’s video mixer, their fourth man, projected onto a vinyl screen at the back of the stage. Music and video — plus bandleader Adam Swan marshaling the crowd with a megaphone — came together in an in-your-face experience far more like a booze-fueled monster truck rally than a dark urban rave. It was hard to tell if Truckasauras was goofing on inbred Americana and Hollywood violence or earnestly embracing it; the music was good enough to render moot the distinction.

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More than your typical electronica act, Truckasauras focused on songs — formal compositions that braided layers of simply shaped melodies into a complex, rhythmic whole. (And yes, they reconstructed the “Airwolf” theme into a sweeping analog anthem.) The music is beautiful, strangely so, and hard-charging at the same time. This is a techno outfit for people who like rock ‘n’ roll.

For a band without an album on shelves, they’ve garnered a loyal following in Seattle. The live drummer (Swan’s younger brother Tyler) added even greater accessibility, a flailing focal point that counterbalanced the rest of the group’s hunched, intent knob-twiddling. Their debut comes out May 27 on local techno label Fourth City Records. It’s sure to be one of the summer’s most talked-about releases.

Jonathan Zwickel:

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