We last checked in with NYC's Autodrone back in 2008. It's been a while, but they are not the most
active of bands. It must take a lot of effort to stay exactly on the border between goth and shoegaze
without falling completely into one camp or another....
I guess it's the same lineup too. Autodrone do not have a very large web presence, and what
information i can find is hardly comprehensive. Again, i guess it keeps them in the limbo between goth
and shoegaze. Mystery is an important part of ambiguity.
This album starts off with a tinkling of organ and some low synths, before Katherine Kennedy's voice
comes in, echoed and distant. The song is called Corvus and it grows in layers of flat drumming
and some really lovely guitarwork.
Exit Ghost is a typical Autodrone rocker and shows what the band does to good effect. An
organ drones, the guitars grind, the drums thud, and Kennedy wails away. Le Voleur is a similar
tune, only sped up a little bit. The frantic pace of this one reminds me of Mira.
The keep the pace cranked up for The Way Down. It's a really happy and bouncy song.
Kennedy's voice drones eerily though, and the synths drone angrily, which is an odd juxtaposition.
However, on the chorus, the song turns cheery with the keys switching over to fast church organ mode
and the guitars chiming along. This song is what would happen if the hip band at a Catholic Church (you
know, when they try to be "contemporary") used the old pipe organ in the church with their rock music.
It's really weird, and i kind of like it.
High Dying Sun is another grinding tune that moves nicely. Not bad, but the next track is
Thunderbolt, and i have issues. The song is okay for the most part, another rocker that grinds
along nicely. But there is this sound, a cheesy tone that, after a lot of contemplation, i have realized is
Autodrone trying to make a musical sound that mimics electricity. It sounds like they mic-ed a Taser, and
when it comes into the song it is the loudest thing in the song, momentarily drowning out all of the rest
of the song.
I just have to ask: why? It disrupts the flow of an otherwise decent song. Autodrone tased my
enjoyment dead, right there. Please don't do that, ever again.
I will skip over this song forever after. In fact, i am just going to delete the MP3 that the band sent
me, just to remove this failed experiment of a song from my music library.
Okay. Remember people, i listen to these things to warn you. Now you know to avoid this song.
Learn from my suffering, so that it is not in vain!
Moving on... the next song is just great. Really, it's one of my favorite Autodrone songs ever. It's
called Like Water In My Lungs and starts with the band channeling Mira. Kennedy's voice is a little
deeper than usual and the band chugs along and then, in the middle, the riffing gets furious and she
howls as the band channel Bauhaus for a brief moment, and then it goes back to the tinkling shoegaze. I
like the mix there, the darkness just under the surface, the rage at the heart of shoegaze.
Lay Of The Land is another good one. It starts with keyboardist Angel Lorelei getting her Bach
on, playing a deep organ sound that riffs for a minute, before the guitars chime in and Kennedy howls
overtop. After that they give us Witness To A Ghost, a decent rocker. The record ends with the
instrumental outro 49:51.
In general Autodrone reminds me of Mira. This is harder rock music made by white people who wear
a lot of black clothing. At times the guitars reach a level of density that i find really enjoyable. However,
the vocals are female, vaguely high-pitched, vaguely expressive, and kind of buried in the mix. This will
kill the appeal for some people.
But here is the thing: Autodrone do what they do: you either like it or dislike it. They are not doing
anything new here -- nothing pushes the boundaries of what they have been doing in the past. If you like
their previous records, then this is a new set of songs in the same vein. If you have been unimpressed
before, then i doubt that this release will change your mind.
One very notable exception to the above is Thunderbolt, where they tried using a Taser as a
musical instrument. This is, as far as i can tell, something new that has never been done before. And
Autodrone have shown us why it should not be done.