Heaven-sent Cirrus reaches for the clouds 

In the wake of the mid-'90s techno revolution, it takes more than synthesizers, big beats and guitar and vocal samples for an act to distinguish itself from the rest of the electronica pack. For Cirrus' Aaron Carter, that something extra stems from his early religious experiences.

"My mom would drag me to church every Sunday, which was in the middle of Compton ... Everyone's bouncing off the walls, jumping off the walls for Jesus. The place was just a party, you know what I mean?"

Carter eventually infused that energy into Cirrus. The band -- which includes guitarist/keyboardist Stephen James Barry and vocalist Rene Padilla -- has released their second full-length recording, "Back on a Mission," through seminal dance label Moonshine Records. The album fuses the hard-edged rap stylings of the Beastie Boys onto the circuitry of L.A.'s techno underground -- a sound that could launch Cirrus into the upper echelons of electronica.

A hip-hop aficionado and DJ at 13, Carter met Barry in 1994 while attending a recording engineer program at Southern California's Golden West College. By that time Carter was fully immersed in L.A.'s techno scene as a DJ, while Barry's interests lay in rock, jazz and hip-hop.

The two eventually recorded a demo tape combining Carter's turntable skills, Barry's guitar playing and Padilla's vocals with their mutual interest in synthesizers, computers and production.

"We were just two kids in Steve's mom's house, in a bedroom, making some music in our spare time," says Carter.

Carter's girlfriend sent their first demo to Moonshine without their knowledge. The label liked the material and arranged to release it as Cirrus' debut single. The success of that track led to more singles, two full-length albums, and their current tour with goth-industrial outfit My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult.

The tour thus gives the band a chance to perform their revivalist-techno gospel to the Thrill Kill Kult's diverse audiences. "We like to jump up and down and scream and yell at the people," says Carter. "Ya know, it's just like ‘Have a good time.'"

More by Daniel Fuller


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