In my desperate attempt to free art from the ballast of objectivity, I took refuge in the square form and exhibited a picture which consisted of nothing more than a black square on a white field. The critics and, along with them, the public sighed, 'Everything which we loved was lost. We are in a desert...' But the desert is filled with the spirit of non-objective feeling... Kazimir Malevich. Anyone endeavoring to free music from such weight inevitably lands at dub, the analog mother of all minimalist pop. The studio as a black cube, devouring all that is dispensable or banal. Rhythm and sound prioritized over melody. Repetition reveals itself as a form of change; focus gravitates to important details. It was under this premise that Berlin-based trio Automat recorded the follow-up to their 2014 self-titled debut (BB 161 CD/LP). Denser and more unflinching than their debut, Plusminus recalls the monolith in Stanley Kubrick's 2001 (1968). There's nothing here to hold on to, and yet so much of it that the listener is transported into a kind of trance. While it's predecessor featured prominent guest vocalists like Lydia Lunch, Blixa Bargeld, and Genesis P-Orridge, here it is the studio that speaks; the 1950s analog technology of Candy Bomber Studios, Tempelhof, Berlin, where Automat recorded the album over three days, without much rehearsal. First takes were final, limitation as strength. Most track-titles come from devices and effects units used during production: 'EMT 140' is a two-meter long reverb-plate and 'H 910' is a harmonizer that defined the sound of David Bowie's Low. Automat member Zeitblom had been searching for this unit for ten years; his perseverance paid off. The thunderous bass lines, delirious rhythms, and hypnotic sounds of Plusminus make notions of categories and genres superfluous. Of course, we're not dealing with Classic Dub Reggae here. And the Detroit techno of musicians such as Terrence Dixon is another story. Yet oscillating between these poles is a music that also draws from Jazz and other genres without compromising it's autonomy. One can follow this development through previous productions, including a 2014 split single with Schneider TM (BB 178EP) and a 2015 EP with Max Loderbauer (BB 197EP). But with Plusminus, Automat has succeeded in creating their interim masterpiece, Jurgen Ziemer. Automat is Jochen Arbeit (Einsturzende Neubauten, Die Haut), Achim Farber (Project Pitchfork, Prag, Phillip Boa), Georg Zeitblom (Sovetskoe Foto).
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