Automatisme - Transit

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:7 Release Date:2018-08-24
Automatisme - Transit
Automatisme - Transit

Québécois producer William Jourdain, a.k.a. Automatisme, has crafted a delicately layered and intricate piece of work with his debut full length, Transit. Strapping into a pair of headphones for this one is absolutely required unless you're not concerned about all the little nooks and crannies on offer. Of course, they're kind of the whole point. At times it's rolled up bits of circuit boards and wire, and at other times it slides into more meditative zen states, but it's consistently unsettled. Rarely does a particular pattern hold for long before flickering, exploding, dissipating, or collapsing into something else.

Opener 'Bureau 0' epitomizes this nearly constant transitory state by beginning as a gentle glow and getting progressively more fragmented. Before long it's layers of rippling sound crashing over each other, fighting for dominance. It begins to calm down near the end, but bursts back to life briefly, showing that nothing can be trusted in this set. Things get dark and intimate during 'Bureau 1', with a whispery analog fuzziness growing on the song like mold. Ping-ponging radar bleeps bounce around as if you were exploring watery depths in a submarine. There's something nearly conspiratorial going on here. 'Bureau 2' is essentially a continuation of the same song sliced and diced into a slightly different configuration, although it concludes with a giant machine humming, whirring, and powering down. 'Bureau 3' opens up like a buzzing fluorescent light, a morph on the previous track's TV static, swinging lazily in an abandoned bomb shelter, but pours in smooth waves of aquatic pads until the itchiness washes away. Later, it works in syncopated synths and glides over electronic wastelands, and its repetitive rhythms become hypnotic.

'Registrariat', although the longest track on the album, is a quiet, small song, like curling into the fetal position in the corner and listening to water drip in secret cracks. A strange, insistent pounding appears intermittently to add a touch of claustrophobia here and there. Although it's almost as incoherent as the rest of the set, it's relatively listenable thanks to smoother, mellow electronics. And here it seems as though the album lives up to its name, with its background sounding a bit like a subway station. The album gets more luxurious on the last two tracks. 'Bateau 1' swirls and pulses like an ancient civilization coming back to life, with bizarre vocal transmissions breaking through from another dimension as Morse Code instructions are fed into factory robots, while 'Bateau 2' sits surf-side next to an ocean of static while it beams messages to extraterrestrials and computers die. The whole thing builds in intensity and pressure like an electronic black hole, tension mounting until it pops like a bubble and splashes into nothingness.

This set falls vaguely under the extremely broad umbrellas of electronic music, but it defies easy classification beyond that point. There is definitely a glitch sensibility in many places, and a touch of IDM, but it's fairly avant-garde too. It won't really work as background music because it's too intrusive, and you'll miss out on a lot if you're not focused on it. It is a difficult and challenging listen, but adventurous psychonauts will probably enjoy themselves.

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