Cackling Sonic Emissions

Pterodactyl have a catchy, scratchy sound

May 2-8, 2007

Pointy and squawky is what the Brooklyn-via-Ohio trio Pterodactyl are all about, and their name aptly evokes their cackling sonic emissions. Live, Pterodactyl project a jerky energy that’s at once off-kilter and magnetic; they sweat a lot, play fast and trade off vocal duties which run from coyly restrained to screamo. These guys switch without warning but stop on a dime.

Though that intensity doesn’t translate as strongly on their new eponymous CD (issued by Brah, the label curated by fellow Brooklynites and musical soul mates Oneida), it’s still a rewarding listen. “Polio” barrels ahead like a bullet train besieged by robots, though the album’s highlight is its gloriously tense closing song, “Esses,” which creeps along quietly as nonsense lyrics about letters (“I stepped onto esses / Resting on two aitches / Lessons from the exes . . .”) sung in a barely contained whisper, then gains a sinister edge and culminates into an ominous crescendo that threatens to explode but never actually does.

It would be interesting to see Pterodactyl share a bill with Sonoma County’s own Archeopteryx, whose output is even more compact and frantic. It’s not often that you have a musical showdown between two audio assaults named after extinct flying reptile-like creatures; the audience might wind up having seizures! We should perhaps be thankful that thousands of miles separate these two bands.

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