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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I first discovered Claudio Gizzi in his few precious collaborations for movie scores. This is a strong classical based musician. In this project he is accompanied by Romano Musmarra & Claudio Gizzi & Mario Maggi to provide more substantial materials. Published in 1978, this automat self title and unique album can be seen as a classic of late 70's avant garde electro pop music. This is a superb listening brillantly alternating unearthly loopy electronic ambiences with amazing retro-synth pop melodies. This work is not so far from Wolfgang Riechmann, Kraftwerk and early Colin Potter's successes in post-modern cold electro. This album doesn't have the soulful-colourful grandeur of others 70's synthscapes from Italy (Francesco Leprino, Futuro Antico, Telaio Magnetico...) but it remains absolutely original, perfectly achieved and well orchestrated. Side A culminates the album with a gorgeous sci-fi & enigmatic epic dominated by electronic scintillations, surreal themes and hyper catchy-hypno rythms / melodies. The ambience is dynamic, energetic but also admits obscure, dark, haunted vibes that remin me Goblin's 70s horror soundtracks. Droid reiterates this Goblin-esque feeling (notably in Phenomena) with tremendous, urgent rythms, scarily (a little bit cheesy) synthezised melodies. Ultraviolet features suspensful, long droning sequences in a rather icy, moody atmosphere. A mysterious, scary, cheesy and proggy electronic album that clearly deserves a listening.
Report this review (#194530)
Posted Saturday, December 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This self-titled debut by Automat is very spacial and full of energy that really makes this album seem like pre-dance music with a touch from Goblin's Argento film soundtracks. After the sounds of an alarm on a space station and the growing sound of the space outside, Kraftwerkian melodies rush in at full force through the pod-bay doors, but with much more energy and more of a darker quality than I've heard from Kraftwerk. Ghostly voices, robotic whistling and mechanical humming make up the visceral elements that make this album a great listening experience.

But the last two tracks really make this stand out to me. "Ultraviolet" is free of the Kraftwerkian melodies and beats, and instead is dead and cold with a bleak humming that becomes almost operatic, like a ghost in space trying to tell you something that may save your life, but in a long dead language that if incomprehensible. "Mecadance", however, is probably the most optimistic track on this album. Though it starts with the ghostly presence from the last track, the sounds of light glittering from the stars and bouncing off of the wings of your craft become blinding, and then the sounds of drowned-out bells or wailing from unknown creatures from the depths of space end the album on a note of complete euphoria and relaxation.

Honestly, I think anyone who enjoys Goblin's soundtracks and any of Kraftwerk's '70s material should find this enjoyable as well. It's definitely more interesting than Kraftwerk's music and it doesn't contain any slightly goofy vocals, and is fairly accessible.

Report this review (#437401)
Posted Friday, April 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It seems to me the important thing about electronic music, the heart and drive of the form, is in how it sounds. Sure the compositions are crucial and thematic direction vital, but it's the depth of a recording, how it vibrates, hums, quavers and trembles, that makes the difference between common and outstanding. I can dig a magnificent sounding cacophony more than an awful sounding calliope. It should penetrate you physically, reach down into your aural heart. You should be immersed, enveloped. Swallowed.

And since Automat was a singular project led by one of Italy's best low-budget scorers, Claudio Gizzi ~ using Mario Maggi's never-actually-manufactured Memory Controlled Synthesizer built in 1977 ~ you know there's going to be a transmission worth receiving. Nuanced chirps tug on monster title cut 'automat', taken up by the alloys of the MCS70 describing the cybernetic landscape and pulling us through a long flight over alien murals of unknown colors and ores. Present is Giorgio Moroder, Goblin, and other suspects but as is often the case with a one-off, Automat is more satisfying than any of its influences, more pure of purpose. Better.

Granted the twenty-minute title resides within the dance-beat tempo and reflects ZYX's Italodisco of the early 80s, but it's also a deliberate piece of movement in sound that develops with texture, atmosphere and mood. 'Droid' has high strangeness as a machine comes undone, 'ultraviolet' enters the Mutara Nebula with us in tow, and cybernetic 'mecadence' is industrial one moment, light & astral the next.

A record that is both terribly dated and a perfect starter for the Electronic Prog virgin, Automat is well worth investigating for anyone quietly curious about, or not normally drawn to, the subgenre.

Report this review (#1568205)
Posted Friday, May 20, 2016 | Review Permalink

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