Friday, September 9, 2011



Double Double Land show poster by Alicia Nauta

During the last two months ZACHT AUTOMAAT was able to play our first live shows. We had, prior to Aug 19th 2011, been a studio band only. McLean and I have nearly 10 years live experience together in another context, however, and we were itching to perform. We recorded our 8 records last year...

Electrishe Duo (out of print)
We're Glad You Agree
Smart Candle
I Can Feel the Mold in Me [Dead Slow, No Wake]
As it is Spoken, it Shall be Done
The Smiling Wilderness
Get Baack
We Can't Help You if We Can't Find You

... knowing that McLean was moving in Jan 2011. We decided to skip performing in favour of recording all our ideas in waiting. This was no small undertaking. Much of the material is through-composed, multilayered shit that took time to get together. A lot of it is free collage and sonic montage made from snatches of our raw recordings. Many times it was necessary to spend a great deal of time recording a song knowing that it would be sped up 300 percent in the end and played backwards overtop an unrelated part of a completely different song. Whole epics had to be constructed from things that only two people can play simultaneously. Many of the bed tracks were recorded before the ideas for them had been put clearly into words. A great deal of faith and imagination was employed in the early stages. Everything started from bass and drum tracks, and sounded horrible. I wouldn't let McLean tune his guitar. We would do overdubs with the original tracks muted. Overdubs were done immediately after recording. First takes were always used unless there was a technical failure. Tape loops had to be made. Equipment was destroyed. Everything had spring reverb and tape echo on it and half of it was sped up or slowed down. We built our own synthesizer (primitive). More than 70 cassette tapes were filled with raw material recorded in this way and transferred through another echo into a computer. Song structures had to be edited together from these initial recordings in many cases obliterating the original concept and introducing whole new layers of multipart keyboard statements. These final products were sequenced into albums of traditional running length (16 to 22 minutes a side, two sides) and final touches were added.

This summer McLean came back to Canada for two months. This time we decided we would put all our energy into live performance. We couldn't do anything exactly like the recordings but there were things we'd like to try. So we asked a talented friend of ours if he would like to play with us and he agreed. We rehearsed three times, once for 19 hours, and were ready. A wobbly concoction of performable music. We freely referenced the records and extrapolated bits and pieces into a live trio of bass, keyboards and drums, with shared oscillators. It was manic and beautiful and truly in the spirit of AUTOMAAT. Then he broke his arm a week before the shows! I'm not lying to you! Sudddup! So McLean and I played our first two shows as an "Electric Duo" incorporating prerecorded oscillations and tape loops with organ/drums and bass. We didn't get to rehearse any of it, but wrote it down on scraps of paper. The backing tapes were finished 5 minutes before departure. We played London and Peterborough like that, with varied results.

Then we asked another talented friend to play drums with us. With one practice only and his own scraps of paper we played in Toronto and Hamilton. The wounded original drummer played some vile organ and oscillators with us in Toronto to intimidate his demons, but in Hamilton we played as a trio.

These live shows are not like our raw bed-track recordings and are not like the finished album products, they are something else altogether...

There is so much more we'd like to explore.
So many things a live band could do with sound and light.
This was a chaotic first run and merely the beginning.

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