Released on John Zorn's femme-art music imprint, Oracle, "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?" is gleefully free of the formalistic astringency that infects many Zorn-related works. Downtown NYC scenesters/"Bat?"-girls Kitty Brazelton and Dafna Naphtali -- with drummer Danny Tunick -- may classify themselves as "electronic chamber punk," but what they really do is bridge the multigaps between smart, weird and passionate, while throwing in invigorating doses of funny. Plus, Brazelton/Naphtali perform in black lingerie, which not nearly enough serious-composer types do these days. It's an artful stylistic mishmash. Electronically skewered madrigals (the two women both have four-octave ranges), punk hoedowns, witty dialogue overlays and spy-movie guitar space-outs lead to a mounting fusillade of slatternly raw rawk that nearly rips apart the Mylar on tracks 14 through 17. With egalitarian pep and boredom-defying inventiveness, "Bat?" appeals to the John Barthes part of your brain while never forgetting the import of the Jim Carrey section.
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