Maxime de la Rochefoucauld

Automates Ki

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Incorporating space drones, meditative rhythms, and cymbal work from Far Eastern influences, Automates Ki is an ambient soundscape that pleasantly blends one track into the next. Although it's easy to lose track of the progression of songs (the album often becomes all one in the ear), there's a little too much going on instrumentally to call it "wallpaper music." The main significance of this album is its ingenious instrumentation. The liner notes give top billing to "System KI," the large host of percussive automatons constructed and wired by Maxime Rioux. This group of self-playing instruments ranges from drums rigged with intermittently connecting arms or mallets to string instruments struck by swinging flat stones. The automatons are triggered by analog keyboard frequencies activated by Maxime Rioux, while Gerard Leckey plays accompanying keyboards. "Randomly correct" is the philosophy behind this music, so there aren't formal compositions or song structures. Once the automatons get going, their interplay takes its own shape, and the humans join in, adding melody, accents, and drones. The result is an album of warm, shifting sound patterns, interweaving textures, and polyrhythms. For those who don't demand a beginning, middle, and end -- or require that songs have a predetermined direction -- the concept, creation, and result of "System KI" is inspiringly cool.

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