Seeing Autolux live is like being placed on a conveyor belt at an android factory. Bit by bit, song by song, they replace the eyes, ears, limbs, and hearts of everyone in the crowd. Converting the faithful followers into a small militia of mechanical automatons. The guitars are aluminum silver, the drummer makes her own clothes, all awesome and partly from space. Funky beats and feedback. Everyone sings. Everything is distorted and distressed, without losing melodies or precision. The allure of Autolux is their ability to create dark and desolate soundscapes that still convey undertones of sensuality. Their music is immensely moving and dramatic, but also colorful. They rebel against norms without ever being impish or contemptuous. If ever there was a band deserving of comparisons to Caravaggio, Autolux is it.
The Los Angeles based trio has just recently signed to TBD Records in the US and ATP Recordings for the rest of the world, although their first record, Future Perfect, was released on T Bone Burnett's label, DMZ, under Columbia in 2004. Future Perfect began with "Turnstile Blues", featuring one of the most distinctive drumbeats and musical atmospheres of any album in recent memory. A Pitchfork review stated, "In the first 10 seconds of the album opener, Carla Azar shames most every beat-maker with her ridiculous Leibezeit-cum-Bonham percussion." The song created a vacuum of precise tumult that pulled you in, stretched you out, and spit your altered shape through a flawless cycle of songs. The album's otherworldly moods and eclectic makeup of songs made it difficult to categorize and gained the band much-deserved respect. Four and half years have passed since the band stopped touring on Future Perfect. But the space since then has been filled with activity in spite of any obstacles thrown their way, including the process of freeing themselves from Columbia and escaping with full ownership of Future Perfect.
As part of the long build up to the release of their new album, Transit Transit, they made the song "Audience No.2" available as a 'pay what you will' track on their website. Soon after, they joined PJ Harvey for a tour of Russia. During this time they also continued to play their own shows, trying out new songs live, and in some cases revisiting the recorded versions to make necessary alterations or, in some cases, total deletions. In the summer of 2009, they collaborated with the painter Kill Pixie (Mark Whalen) for 'Future Spa', an art exhibition/sound installation in Los Angeles. In more recent months, the band has toured extensively, including an appearance at All Tomorrow's Parties in upstate New York and an opening spot with Thom Yorke's Atoms For Peace.
Now, the much-awaited follow-up, Transit Transit is finally here. It begins no less uniquely than its predecessor, although this time the subtler concussion of rhythm that starts the title track is an announcement of change, and the following mood and vocal-a metaphysical sorbet. If you have been waiting, somewhat impatiently, for this record, Transit Transit has yielded an unexpected mix of material, but has everything you had hoped for. And if Autolux is a band you are just discovering, here is a deep and profound world of noise and emotion to immerse yourself in.
The band produced Transit Transit themselves with guitarist/vocalist Greg Edwards serving as engineer. Most of the record was recorded at Space 23, the band's makeshift studio in their rehearsal room near downtown Los Angeles. A few drum tracks - "Highchair," "Spots," and "The Science of Imaginary Solutions" - came from an earlier session with producer/engineer John Goodmanson. The title track "Transit Transit" (the last song to be recorded) was started in Denmark by Edwards, using a virtually unplayable upright piano and a sample of a coffin-style freezer found in a nearby basement, and then finished back in Los Angeles. There is a notable sonic progression to Transit Transit: samples, vintage synthesizers, and manipulated ambience glue central song components together. There are a lot more vocal harmonies and piano driven songs, even a bit of trumpet. Vocal duties are shared by all three members throughout the album - their voices strangely similar - but each having a definite emotional character. Bassist/ singer, Eugene Goreshter continues to innovate his bass style, effortlessly modernizing the instrument's melodic role on songs like "Census" and "Supertoys," while still providing an on-edge rawness and groove-filled momentum. Edwards' guitars serve to modulate the moods throughout the record, constantly evoking feelings found in the space between emotions. And Carla Azar's sturdy, creative drumming (a phenomenon to behold on stage) continues on record with plenty of hook beats - ferocious and orchestral, at once.
The majority of the album was mixed by Kennie Takahashi, three of the tracks being mixed by Dave Sardy, and then mastered by Bob Ludwig. Artist Kill Pixie and Carla created the artwork for Transit Transit.