Album Reviews

The First Vienna Vegetable Orchestra – Automate

UK release date: 15 September 2003


The First Vienna Vegetable Orchestra consists of “vegetable-based instruments, although where necessary, additional kitchen utensils such as knives or mixers are employed,” it says here.

So it initially seems astonishing that they’ve decided to cover Kraftwerk‘s electronic classic Radioaktivitat – synths seeming somehow to be the very antithesis of root crops. But, once past the variable volume of Asp, the result is an aural feast which somehow transcends its novelty value. Radioaktivitat’s riff is instantly recognisable in amongst the squawks, primitive taps and whooshes. They’ve managed to make an electronic record – using organic means.

Thumps, whirrs and squelches create off-the-wall rhythms – and they’re so inventive they’re infectious. One is never quite sure which vegetable is making which sound, but in any event this act’s harnessing of the presumably tiny sounds demands respect. One can only marvel at what they’d be like live as they beat their vegetables into submission in the name of art.

Fans of Matmos (Bjork collaborators on her last album Vespertine) will lap up the output of these Viennese geniuses – especially Noiz, which sounds like the death of a thousand unfortunate tubers. Elsewhere, Radian (another cover) is a stupendous highlight for anyone who likes their music simply structured with a sprinkling of humour to top it off. And if you see them live you can eat their instruments in a soup afterwards.

Like Matmos and Kraftwerk having a fight in a greengrocer’s. Wildly daft, exuberant and witty, this is the most original album in ages.


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The First Vienna Vegetable Orchestra – Automate


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