Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Automato - Automato

Greetings waveriders.  Recently it dawned on me that I was not fulfilling one of the core guidelines of The Ripple Effect.  Looking back over the past several months I discovered that none of my reviews have covered a 'lost classic'.  This is something that must be rectified!  But what album should I write about?  Oh I know!  I'll highlight the extraordinary self-titled release from Automato!

What's that?  You've never heard of Automato?  Don't worry about it.  You're far from alone.  Besides, that's why I'm here.  Automato was a hip-hop band from New York City.  Yes I said band.  The group was composed of Alex Frankel, Ben Fries, Jesse Levine, Nick Millhiser, Andrew Raposo and Morgan Wiley.  All of their music was performed with live instrumentation, lending the tunes a completely organic feel.  Their self-titled album was released in 2004.  To this day it pains me that this was the band's only release.

So how did I hear about Automato?  Good question.  My best friend is a major hip-hop head.  He exposed me to all kinds of quality hip-hop that would otherwise have completely passed me by.  While I don't remember exactly how he came upon Automato, I certainly recall when he brought them to my attention.  "You've got to hear this group!  They've got a song called 'My Casio' that talks about how the instrument didn't prepare the emcee for his present day conditions, and another called 'Cool Boots' in which the emcee talks about only wanting truth, peace, harmony and anti-gravitational boots".  Being a child of the 1980's, hearing that made me more than a little intrigued.  I listened to my friend's copy shortly thereafter, and I've been a fan ever since!

This album has everything I look for in a hip-hop release.  Automato is all killer, no filler!  From start to finish the music has your head bobbing back and forth involuntarily to the beat.  The only breaks in the action come from the many occasions where you hear some whip-smart wordplay that makes the listener stop dead in their tracks.  Great lyrical content!  Great I tell you!  It is not often that I commit hip-hop lyrics to memory, but the song "Gold Of Desert Kings" has lyrics so outstanding that I will never forget them.  First of all the chorus is built around the couplet 'I take my feet out of my socks, I put a pebble inside / So even when I walk I got a rock in my stride'.  And then there is the second verse...

"Racing with the avalanches, dancing with the thunder/ Having staring contests with the moon and making stars wonder / You know those things that are above us / We look up and we don't register because of our troubles / I'm stumbling paranoid / Bumping into trees a lot / Redefine a couple things / Almost had it all in every category / I never seen a dragon though / Imagine that / You never seen a one-eyed dragon / That shit is phat / Yeah that's what I heard my homeboy Lance / He had a yellow one and said it stank / It hated water plus it ate his daughter when she pet it's back / That's irrelevant like rectal temperatures of bumblebees / We're well adapted in this life / Don't settle for less / Still trying to live by what's important, it's easy to lose track / We spend our life trying to kill time but time shoots back / Selling ourselves short and dumb as me but worse a person is occasionally complete / We can't stay in one piece"

Fantastic!  I never get tired of hearing "Gold Of Desert Kings".  It's far and away one of my favorite songs, and it perfectly represents the quality of every track on Automato.  If you're not interested in picking up this album after reading those lyrics, or better yet clicking on the youtube link below, then I don't know what to say.  Thank you for reading this far, but I can't help you on your musical journey.  For the rest of you waveriders, welcome aboard the Automato bandwagon!


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