The Automatics Group – Auto 17 (Or) 12″
Another promo! What’s going on here? Well, better not to look a gift horse in the mouth. You keep sending ’em, this here blog will keep reviewing ’em. This one was particularly welcome as the label was good enough to have an actual vinyl copy sent – and because the label in question is Russell Haswell‘s Touch-affiliated boutique operation, Or.
The Automatics Group is Theo Burt and Peter Worth, from York, UK. Auto 17 presents a series of short tracks, produced by recording the raw output from various patches on a vintage analogue synthesizer (an EMS VCS 3, to be precise). Burt and Worth’s background seems to be in in academic composition and audio art, so they don’t take the approach you’d expect from analogue synth twiddlers (who tend to be stoned indie-rock hipsters). Instead of warm, atmospheric drones, this record delivers short bursts of startlingly alien sound.
The approach is distinctly abstract and formalistic. The pieces make no pretense to representing any particular mood or emotion or even to being music, in any recognizable sense. The results are both alienating and invigorating – bound to make the average listener reconsider his/her limited and platitudinous perceptions of what a vintage synthesizer can/should do.
There’s something about this record that recalls an analogue take on the lab-coated digital madness unleashed by first-generation Mego acts like General Magic and Farmers Manual. In the waveform realm, the nearest comparison would be to a severely time-constrained version of Coil’s experiments in time travel.
You can hear for yourself, by downloading this preview. Or you can watch this video of Theo Burt performing Auto 17-style material live…
Then, once you’re suitable impressed, you can buy the vinyl at Forced Exposure.