Automat: Will the real Automat stand up?

24th October 2016

Title: OstWest

Label: Bureau B

The new album from this German outfit that combines a krautrock flavour to its techno dub beat.

I recently reviewed their Plusminus album and had issues with it because it was basically a rip-off of the techno outfit, Fluke and that band’s slow, rolling beats and vocal interruptions.

The slow beat approach to their work remains but I hear a lot more Automat in this album and less of other people (There is, it has to be said, a slight Fluke-like nod here and there. It’s like a drug addict coming off their addiction: it’s there but there’s less), which is a decided relief because I basically enjoy the Automat sound but I hate creative artists who refuse to be creative and fall back on lazy, established sounds that leads to tributebanditis.

This LP was recorded at the Candy Bomber studios in Berlin’s former Tempelhof airport. Interestingly, it was also recorded at the height of that country’s refugee crisis. The band found that many of the refugees were taking shelter in the former hangars of the airport, right below their studio. The theme of the album, apparently, is the failures of neoliberalism (from the band’s standpoint) as a political entity. Oh, really?

What we are supposed to hear in this music is also the rise of xenophobic cries in a Brexit Europe. I don’t hear any of that and, look, neither will you. I won’t until the band start singing and making a verbal point about the crisis. Which just makes me think that the band are being very silly once more and jumping on yet another bandwagon. Automat can be ‘what we see we do, what we hear we do’ which frustrates the hell out of me.

OstWest, despite the ridiculous political velcro, is a fairly decent album. Nearly decent. Better than Plusminus but still not truly Automat. I’m still waiting for ‘Automat’ to emerge, fully formed and I just want to tell them this…that I’m a patient man. I can wait, if necessary. We’ll see who crumbles first.