ARCANE: Automaton (2016)
“This is a very experimental modular synth album, so be warned, and dont expect nice synth tunes (Paul Lawler)”
1 Automaton 4:39 2 Brazen Head 3:38 3 Predetermined Sequence 6:10 4 Perew's Man 3:53 5 Euphonia 6:10 6 The Steam Man 7:27 7 The Bird Trainer (Quintet for Buchla Music Easels) 4:53 8 The Martinet Elephant 4:49 9 The Turk 4:49 10 Mechanical Beetle 5:34 Groove | GR-1001
(CD 52:02) (V.F.)
(Experimental, ambient, Berlin School)
What can we expected from Paul Lawler after his very dark and ambient Black Knight, the last E.P of Arcane which went out hardly 1 year ago? Nevertheless, the brilliant musician and synthesist from England always had the art to destabilize his public with albums which illuminate either his name or that of Arcane. AUTOMATON does not make an exception! Announced with great pomp as being the very first opus to be released on the new division of the Dutch label Groove, the series GR-1000 which specializes in the publishing of high quality CD offered in cardboard sleeve, AUTOMATON is an album more experimental than musical that Paul Lawler has shaped by the means of modular synths which generate atmospheres of modular synths, sequences and drums as well as vintage effects. These multiple layers aim at imitating, in music, the self-propelled nature of automatons. You see the kind? And Paul warned me with insistence; it's an album of very experimental modular synth and don't especially expect nice synth tunes! Possible... But the music is going to crush you wildly! And it starts with Automaton.
Metallic wings which sharply shiver, in fact like these false teeth which laugh and make the visit laugh so much. A click and then a continuous knocking, as a peak-wood which is mad about an electric pylon, bludgeon our unbelieving ears in front of the sound fauna which deploys in so little time. There are shadows which crawl, as airs of flutes going breathless by a minimalist tune, and effects of reverberations which cross this title which would fit very well to the night-awakening of a forest which haunts the inhabitants of a distant planet. The rhythm of the title-track is loud, quick, linear and sounds at some points like a mixture of Plastikman, it is so true for the crawling and organic rhythm of Euphonia (a great track by the way), and of Johannes Schmoelling in his period incubator which gave us the amazing Wuivend Riet. And it's even more true for the very ambiosonic Brazen Head. Predetermined Sequence offers a rhythm more fluid with a great movement of bass sequences which will delight the fans of Arcane, as of Redshift. The sequence offers a continuous texture which intensely oscillates under the vibrations of a bass drum (boom-boom) and other metallic knockings. The ears of our friend, the automaton, are bleeding here! And if we like these heavy and killing rhythms, The Martinet Elephant and The Turk are small jewels! Perew's Man is not outdone! It's doubtless the most musical title here with its riffs and effects of synth from Tangerine Dream's Hyperborea era. Here still, the organic fauna is simply delicious. The Steam Man moves us closer to the Pulsar period from Vangelis. The oscillations are lively and change shape to accelerate the pace. We are in the most experimental phase with this title and the centipedes which fornicate in Soil Festivities' atmospheres of the same Vangelis in The Bird Trainer (Quintet for Buchla Music Easels). And no! It's not because The Martinet Elephant and The Turk are heavy and lively that the envelope is less experimental. Mechanical Beetle ends this journey of sounds and tones with a concert of arthropods which feast in front of a banquet for night-vultures.
Experimental! Certainly. But not stripped of charms, nor of rhythms. Melodies? They are of organic nature with this tribe of metallic insects which run mad in the dead arteries of an automaton with a surprising affection for cyborg litanies. When the name of Arcane is present, and of Paul Lawler of course, we have to open our horizons. Because no matter where he goes, it's always done well. And it's the same thing with this AUTOMATON The rhythms here are going to make your neighbor bawl and the atmospheres will put your neurons to work. A perfect mixture for the fans of minimalist music of atmosphere, because there is everywhere, and of demoniac rhythms. And when both make fusion, it's a of sonic nirvana. Do I exaggerate? Hardly...
Sylvain Lupari (October 3rd, 2016) ****¼*
Available at Groove NL