Album Reviews

Automato – Automato

(Jamie Harper) UK release date: 12 April 2004


Automato are a hip-hop sextet from New York. Without mention of “niggers”, “bitches”, or even “ho-s”, Automato’s refreshingly alternative take on hip-hop screams originality and intelligence.

Focus introduces their style well, but it is track two, The Single, that is the first real sign of brilliance. With powerful bass and the sound of a screaming soulful chorus, the listener is warned of Automato’s excellent musicality, and a clear confidence in what they are doing. Indeed it is this song that seems odds on to be the next single off the album.

Cleansed of gangsta clich�s and obscenities, they fill the vacant space with creative weirdness. Track three, My Casio is structured around a portamento bass-line that threatens to fall through even the most heavily fortified of floors.

By the time debut single Walk Into The Light is over, it is clear that Automato are loaded up to the gills with creative juice, with use of odd time signatures, complex rhythms, diverse instrumentation and originality in form. Their debut album becomes truly exciting to listen to at the realisation of such expertise.

Further variation is brought with the moody drum ‘n’ bass influenced Hollywood And Vine. Automato’s songs ooze confidence from every note, beat and bar. That their songs are in no hurry to finish is testament to this – Automato operate on a waste not, want not policy, squeezing every last drop of creativity from their never boring songs. They’re not simply going to sit back and stretch a song out of a nice chord sequence, they will take it to within an inch of its life, poke it a few times to check it’s still breathing, then move onto the next song. It is precisely this that makes Automato sometimes hard to listen to, and this album is certainly not for the musically closed-minded. That said, there is never a dull moment here.

The album closes with the epic Hope, a journey through noise where the excellent production is hammered home. Automato’s debut album is produced by the DFA (Tim Goldsworthy and James Murphy), renowned for their production prowess and they certainly haven’t held back their skills on this album. In fact, Automato’s sound is so vast that it takes something special to capture it. This perfect marriage between artist and producer is of the sort seen between Muse‘s epic Absolution and Rich Costey.

Snippets of this album at times sound like Kid A / Amnesiac era Radiohead. Are they the Radiohead of hip-hop? Quite possibly – Automato must be applauded for their imagination, skill, and cold, hard creativity. They have done hip-hop a huge favour, opening another door for it, and who knows where it will lead? A must for any music enthusiast.


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