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Cirrus Strikes the Right, Eclectic Balance

There were many times during Cirrus’ set Wednesday at the House of Blues when you would have sworn you were seeing a rock band. The Long Beach trio, celebrating the release of its second album, “Back on a Mission,” often stood onstage in your basic power trio guitar-bass-drums lineup. Yet the group had already established its presence this night with programmers and turntables for a strong break-beat techno-rap blend.

What gives? To quote an old “Saturday Night Live” sketch, it’s a floor wax and a dessert topping. The group--a rising act in the SoCal rave and dance scene--is hardly the first to gene-splice these elements--Moby, Propellerheads and many others are also working the territory. But the balance they achieved here was solid and charismatic, with the rap, rock and techno edges lining up in a buzz-saw whirl.

Even the hip-hop elements, sometimes hokey in these contexts, rang true--if only for the stylistic nods to such old-school masters as Public Enemy. As the lines between genres--and audiences--blur in the rhythmic music revolution, those who can cover all bases without pandering to any have a clear advantage. Wednesday, Cirrus largely pulled it off.

San Francisco electronic outfit Darwin Chamber also bowed to an old school in its opening set--the one of such Euro-techno pioneers as Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. Unfortunately, the club’s relatively tight quarters made for a claustrophobic effect. Though expertly sculpted, this music is more at home in a rave environment in which it can breathe across the spaces of a warehouse or an open field.

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