The Automatics Group – Summer Mix (Entr’acte) CD
The new album from The Automatics Group is pretty upfront about its sample sources – each track is named according to the mainstream pop and house acts it borrows from (Swedish House Mafia, Deadmau5…) But anyone expecting a mash-up epic along the lines of Kid 606’s The Action Packed Mentallist Brings You the Fucking Jams is going to be severely disappointed.
Rather than cheekily re-contextualizing his source material The Automatics Group’s Theo Burt diffuses it into a Fourier-transformed mist of hiss and hum. The only recognizable element left over from contemporary dance-pop is the steady four-on-the-floor beat. But even this is reduced to a series of ornately minute clicks and pulses, which have more in common with late 90s glitch-techno. Indeed, the most obvious points of reference here are GAS and Basic Channel.
That doesn’t quite cover it, though. As the album title may suggest, this music avoids the deep-in-the-woods dankness of GAS or the skunky fug of Basic Channel, delivering a ravishing blue-skied clarity. This clarity is all the more remarkable given the claustrophobic, over-compressed sound of the music music Summer Mix samples. The whole album has a sense of presence unusual for a 2010s digital production and the dynamic range is startlingly wide by any standards.
All of which makes it easy to speculate about what The Automatics Group might be trying to say with this project. Perhaps this is an attempt to suggest a more open, unashamedly cerebral alternative to contemporary pop’s bullish insistence that you must party hard. But it would be frankly wrong to impose this here blog’s ideological agenda on such a simply, stunningly gorgeous record.
And in any case, the Group has provided a fairly detailed explanation of the rather extraordinary process used to create the album, which suggests that a formalistic focus on pure aesthetics is the goal here – certainly, no other agenda is stated or strongly implied. You can read it at the label’s website, where you can also purchase a copy of the CD, which comes vacuum-sealed within a beautifully-designed antistatic bag, as Entr’acte releases generally are.