AutomatoAutomato Automato

Automato: Automato

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Genre: Electro/Hip-Hop
Year: 2004
Country: USA
Official Site: Automato
Details: Tracks & Audio
Label: Coup de Grāce
I would be lying if I were to say that I've been listening to a lot of hip-hop lately. Gone are the glorious days of the old school—Public Enemy, NWA—and hybrid acts such as Cypress Hill and House of Pain. Snoop, Dre and Ice-T are still around, but their influence has somewhat diminished, replaced by a new breed of poseurs.

Automato's eponymous debut mixes hip-hop and rock with hints of electro, jazz, classical and modern music. I must admit it took me a few spins to assimilate their album as the musical landscape they offer is rich and diversified. As a foreigner whose second language is English, I was also surprised by the lyrics, sometimes social and political commentaries, which sharply contrast with the usual pimpin' lyrical obsession in hip-hop. Of course, the fact that they are from New York emphasizes their artistic aspirations and abilities. Even though its sound is different, Automato reminds me of another New York-based act, Bumblebeez 81 as well as Gorillaz, for their uncompromising approach blending genres with real instruments rather than samples, beyond any stylistic barrier. The fact that the CD is produced by DFA, known for its work with post-punk band The Rapture is another proof of Automato's desire to transcend musical borders.

Automato is filled with big bass and drums that carry light melodies and almost ragga'like vocal deliveries. Even though you can feel influences here and there—for example Jazzmatajazz on"The Single"—the result is homogenous and personal enough to capture your attention—highlights here include "Cool Boots", "Gold of Desert Kings" and "How to Read a Person like a Book". They even make a questionable R &B stop at "Hollywood and Vine" where you can meet me sometimes if you get lucky—or unlucky.

Automato's debut isn't really a killer coup de grace but it's promising enough to shake the hipster inside of you.

  Ed Dantes

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