Musically fragmented these times may be, these are exciting times, specifically in the electronic music genre. It's an exciting time because there are so many new bands, old bands, and individuals making new electronic music in all its myriad varieties. There is so much new music to choose from as the popularity of Italo disco is off the chain, synth pop and space synth is flourishing, and computer/sequencer based electronic music is enjoying a renaissance.
One new act riding the electronica wave is the Swedish band Deutsche Bank who delivers the incredible electronic album "Autopop," which is something of a concept album, but, I'll get to that later.
Deutsche Bank is actually the project of Mats From. Mats’ musical influences include The Human League (before Joanne and Suzanne), Gary Numan, Ultravox (before Midge Ure), Logic System, and Kraftwerk. You can hear the influence of all of these legends in “Autopop.” The strongest influence being Kraftwerk, as shimmering crystalline remembrances of "Neon Lights" and "Das Modell" flashed through my mind like an infectious computer virus as I listened to the stunning tracks of “Autopop.”
Deutsche Bank is not retro recycling the computer electronica of the late 70's early 80's. Deutsche Bank uses the music of this period as the foundation on which to build new computer based electronica whose beats and bytes are firmly planted in the 21st century. Musically, “Autopop” is all about the technology, it is elegant robotic machinery filled with subtle electronic pops, clicks, throbs, ticking, and blips that are woven into a vibrant sweeping pulsation layered electronic tapestry. The sound of “Autopop” is amazing as the production is crisp, sharp and clear, allowing the listener to hear, and experience, every exciting mechanically created sound.
“Autopop” is funky, danceable, engaging, mechanical, engineered, and robotic, yet it's filled with humanity. This humanity is a part of the concept which I mentioned earlier. “Autopop” is an electronic world unto itself. After I did some translating of the song titles I discovered that this world is an automotive world and that is the concept of the album, automobiles, thus the title "Autopop." “Autopop” deals with automobiles, driving them, the adventures one can have in them, and the exploration that can be done with an automobile. Speaking of exploration the tantalizing track "92001" is the perfect example of what I’m talking about as the song whose sweeping synth washes take me on an electronic journey.
"Unterwegs In Meinem Saab" (On the road in my Saab), is a Saab story. It’s robotic computer music all about the excitement of hitting the road and going for a drive in the car that you love so much. In this song the music is the vehicle that takes you on a pleasing electro pop ride.
"Benzin" translates to petrol, which is gasoline, you know, the stuff that makes a car go. It's a snippet of a song that has an ominous dangerous feel about, as if it was saying that you could end up stranded in a dark place if you don't put fuel in your car. Maybe I should listen to my car when it tells me that I need to stop riding on fumes and refuel.
Though replete with engaging robotic vocals, the song "(don't stop) Autopop" has a very organic human feel. It has a certain electronic pop music saccharin sweetness to it. Listening to it I felt the way I did when I purchased my beautiful new car that I wanted to drive again and again, I want to listen to "(don't stop) Autopop," again and again.
"Frankfurt Am Main," is an engaging soothing electro instrumental drive on the open road. The music paints scenes of being surrounded by only beautiful electronic landscapes. Then, you have to hit the brakes and slow down because you reached the urban electronic sprawl of..........."Cities," which is thrilling vibrating electronics, and robotic vocals that please those tiny little pleasure receptors in the brain. When the song reaches that peak where Mats sings "Cities - I travel to cities - ah-ah-ah," I'm reminded of the Kraftwerk classic "Numbers." Also there is a little bit of urban funk going on in "Cities." Just like when Planet Patrol took Kraftwerk’s rhythms and created the funk classic "Play At Your Own Risk," Deutsche Bank adds a bit of its own funk to "Cities" and this funky little urban electronic concoction begs for an extended mix, because, it is awesome.
"Cüber Mensch" is a high octane energetic dance track with oh so infectious electronics. It will make your body move and your mind groove as its penetrating electricity goes right through your body igniting your nerve endings.
Besides pleasing me with computer generated electro pop, "Autopop" did something else for me. It showed me the glaring relationship that exists between today’s automobiles and electronic music. Back in the late 50’s and early 60’s there was a undeniable relationship between hot rods and hot garage band rock as the top 40 charts and AM radio was littered with monster hits that sang of this almost symbiotic relationship with songs like "Hot Rod Lincoln," "Little Deuce Coupe," "GTO," and so many more. But when the 1970's rolled in, fuel shortages, gas lines and fuel economy became social issues and that musical relationship between car and rock ceased and became beautiful nostalgia. In the late 1970’s when electronic music pioneers were programming their computers and sequencers to make music no one thought of the relationship between the cars of that era cars and electronic music, and that's because there wasn't a connection.
With "Autopop," Deutsche Bank has illustrated that there is a connection between today's cars and electronic music. This connection is due to the fact that today’s car are almost robotic machines. Today's automobiles come with onboard computers; they speak to their owners telling them when they need fuel, oil, or air for the tires. Today's autos tell you how far you can go with the amount of fuel you have in the tank, and they can tell you exactly where you are on the planet. Once you choose where you want to go the robotic self -driving cars will take you there, as many states are currently drafting laws and setting the parameters in which these self-driving vehicles can operate.
Most exciting to me is that with satellite radio, terrestrial radio, cell phone hook-up, MP3, computer music files, and multiple disc CD players in today's autos, they are rolling clubs that you don't want to get out of. And what kind of music do you hear pumping from my auto....you guessed it, electronic music, and the music of "Autopop."
Now I see that Gary Numan's electronic classic "Cars" was prophetic when he sang "Here in my car I can only receive - I can listen to you - It's the only way to live - In cars." And in your car, you should be listening to Deutsche Bank's "Autopop" for it is music designed for the discerning tastes of you and your automobile.
© 2013 Rix Roundtree-Harrison
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