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Music Review

Autamata - My Sanctuary

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Lefthand/ RMG - 2002 - 54 minutes

Autamata is the nom-de-plume of one Ken McHugh, producer, multi-instrumentalist and the man behind his own label, Lefthand Records. 'My Sanctuary' is the result of a year's work drawing on a diverse range of influences. McHugh wears his production credentials on his sleeve and (mostly) opts for a less-is-more feel. He juggles quiet and loud, and inverts the notion of instrumentation by using the usually skeletal click tracks as primary beats.

Where sparse electronica risks falling into the clinical category, it is usually rescued by the undulating (and lovely) vocals of Carol Keogh ('Out of This') or Cathy Davey (Let's Normalise'). However 'Registered User' takes a wrong turn and ends up as a dull journey through bleepy robotics. Autamata try to cover a lot of musical terrain and the result is rather uneven.

'Little Green Man' begins as an aimless synthesiser plod before turning into an updated John Ford film score. 'Jive County' - one of the best tracks - is an airy mix of acoustic and electronic sounds. This up and down-ness is most noticeable in the constant interjection of sounds or samples at oddly-timed intervals. Autamata runs towards the finish line that Fourtet has already crossed, but the latter in a more engaging way.

McHugh produced David Kitt's 'Big Romance' and understandably, there is much overlap in production sounds and sequences. While Kitt's younger brother singing on 'Another Love Song' was something of a first, McHugh's nephew sounds like an unsuspecting vehicle for pretension on 'To Be A Robot'.

This is a very worthy, if somewhat patchy effort that has some beautiful moments. Autamata's real potential is apparent, but it's a little thinly spread on 'My Sanctuary'.

Sinéad Gleeson

Tracklisting: Fragments - Jive Country - Out of This - Registered User - Little Green Men - Let's Normalise - Jellyman - To Be A Robot - Onward - Postcript - Hide and Seek

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