This instrumental trio has been burning down clubs and festival stages in Germany since the bandmembers came together in Berlin in late 2011. Their snaky, hypnotic appeal attracts EDM and rock fans in equal numbers. Based on their self-titled debut, it's easy to hear why. Guitarist/electronicist Jochen Arbeit (ex-Die Haut and Einstürzende Neubauten), bassist/radio play producer Zeitblom (Sovetskoe Foto), and in-demand session drummer/programmer Achim Färber (Project Pitchfork, Phillip Boa) offer a 21st century amalgam of minimalist Krautrock, dubwise, beat-drenched electronica, and basement-deep, low-frequency future funk. Opener "THF" has a nearly dreamy "Pump Up the Volume" vibe; it's slower but pulses with insistent keyboard and actual basslines doubling the groove. Arbeit plays repetitive skeletal single guitar lines and adds ghostly dub effects, firing from the margins as Färber's drum kit -- especially his cowbell and snare -- programming and guest Michael Wellacher's congas are compulsively funky. It flows right into "SXF," whose keyboard lines are more on the techno tip as the guitar lines slowly spiral (à la Michael Rother) amid shimmering hi-hat and snare, with an Eastern-tinged cinematic melody gradually asserting itself through layered polyrhythms. Lydia Lunch lends her vocals to "The Streets." She alternately speaks and whispers through a thin veil of reverb. Her delivery is rhythmic too, caressed by waves of rolling, undulating dub. "Mount Tamalpais," with Genesis P-Orridge, is a real changeup. There is a pulse, but it's more subtle and the track is framed by abstract, cold electronics. "TXF" is electro woven through trance. The BPM rate is low but that only adds to the weight and heft of its impact. "Am Schlachtensee" extends that feel, with a low, growling, snarling vocal by Einstürzende Neubauten's frontman Blixa Bargeld, before closing with the narcotic breakbeats and sketched, finely wrought programming in "GWW." The static bassline and spooky slide guitar act as textural and architectural foundations for Färber's massive, slowly emergent blanket of tribal rhythms. Automat's sexy, freaky vibe is interrupted only slightly by "Mount Tamalpais." Otherwise, this trio's formulaic yet mutational equation seems to be atmosphere + rhythm + economy = aural seduction + incessant movement. Killer.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek