Review : Autolux - Transit Transit
UrbA demi-glace is a really fancy condiment whose ingredients call for a mixture of equal parts veal stock and “brown sauce” (usually sauce espangnole). You prepare this by mixing and simmering until you’re left with a tiny portion of the essentials (a character on the ‘90s dramedy Northern Exposure once boiled 40 cows for his magical version of the recipe). Autolux’s music is similar: the best parts of their peers and influences (i.e. the textural complexity and tender abrasion of shoegaze, rhythm-heavy Krautrock jams, the lugubrious, smoldering tension of slowcore, postpunk’s darkness) meet, bubble, fizz and seethe off the fat to produce compact, four-minute-average, unpredictable songs framed in a “pop” form.
Though adhering to this formula/non-formula, this self-produced long-time-comin’ sophomore release relies on an even more augmented eclecticism than their 2004 guitar-driven Future Perfect (not better or worse, just OK Computer to The Bends differences) The trio, bassist/vocalist Eugene Goreshter, guitarist/vocalist Greg Edwards and drummer/vocalist Carla Azar, frames the title track opener with a thumping fridge sample, allowing an antique piano to fill the hall, Goreshter’s oddly distorting voice to pierce and angelic choirs to duet with shadowy affected trumpets. They blister “Census” with a polytonal guitar hook, Goreshter’s monstrous fuzz bass, Azar’s pounding breakdowns and whispered “doo doo” – and still leave some room for toy piano at the cadences. “Highchair” slinks to muted square waves, ticking drum machine, tribal tom-toms, dubby vocals, otherworldly evolving synthetic leads and tiny snatches of sounds that scatter to the sonic corners. On “Spots”, Goreshter mournfully croons to a full string section, Azar’s booming brush strokes and a distant, dying guitar; the singer perfectly describes the mood with the line “it made me feel drunk and sad”.
When they do rock, the group is smart and thankfully avoids traditional dumb riffs: they build to a storm on “Audience No. 2”, but the gesture is multi-faceted, decaying, wobbly, with Azar focusing her rhythm on a tricky paradiddle (hauntingly reminiscent of Can’s “Mushroom”); the bouncing surf-like “Kissproof” squeals with a spate of feedback over the verse / chorus structure, but the effect pedal combinations and production tweaks (i.e. increasing reverb on the drums toward the climax) give the track intrigue....full text
BbcIn some respects, Trent Reznor inviting Autolux to support Nine Inch Nails on their 2005 American tour raised more eyebrows than him recording an album at the site of the Manson Family murders ever did.
You’d expect an unhealthy interest in bloodletting from a man whose music is an exercise in aural sadism, whereas a fondness for lo-fi experimental pop seems much more shocking. Especially when this Los Angeles trio sound so polarised from Nine Inch Nails: organic rather than industrial, fuzzy rather than jagged around the edges. And where Nine Inch Nails’ 2007 album Year Zero was set in a dystopian future, Autolux feel more like they live in a quaint antique shop sticking old guitars and analogue synths together with production as thick as Plasticine.
But Reznor is just one of the famous fans Autolux have picked up since 2004’s debut album Future Perfect: Thom Yorke, PJ Harvey, the Coen Brothers and Flaming Lips have all sung their praises. Musically, Autolux share most ground with the latter, but they also found a natural home on the Coen Brothers’ DMZ label, to which they were signed in 2002. Like the Coen Brothers’ films, their much-delayed second LP Transit Transit is an album that constantly keeps you guessing. Garage rock nugget Census suddenly slides down a greasy pole of bass and bleeps halfway through, the electronic gurgles of The Bouncing Wall blossom into Beach Boys harmonics, and the epic finale The Science of Imaginary Solutions sees drummer Carla Azar’s vocal slowly drowning beneath feedback....full text
NmeSix years might seem a ridiculous gap for Autolux to leave between albums but you can certainly hear where all the time went. The LA trio have branched out from the stoner-Sonic Youth feel of their excellent debut ‘Future Perfect’ to encapsulate ghostly piano ballads (‘Spots’), twisted ambient lullabies (‘The Science Of Imaginary Solutions’) and in the shape of the fantastic ‘Highchair’, a slice of slow-groove hip-hop that sounds like Timbaland going electro. This expansion of sound is also put together with the kind of meticulousness that makes ‘Transit Transit’ doubly compelling. Make the most of it, because we could all be dead by the time Autolux follow it up....full text
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