Thursday, August 5, 2010
[laweekly.com] How long does it take to make a thing? To say that it took six years for Autolux to make Transit Transit, the 2010 follow-up to their 2004 debut, Future Perfect, is neither wrong nor is it accurate.
"There's nothing to say. Here it is. It's here now," says drummer and vocalist Carla Azar, sitting in the cramped drafting room of friend and artist Mark Whalen (aka Kill Pixie, who also created the new album's cover art). "You can't force things to come out of you. You can't force an emotion."
It's around noon on a Thursday in late July. Each member of the band has chosen a different locale for separate conversations, culminating at Space 23, the ominous black and windowless room where the band retreated for half a decade to make Transit Transit.
"I'll never go and record an entire album by ourselves in one room again," Azar says, at mention of that place. "I just never want to do that again."
She rifles through possible culprits, scenarios that might be blamed legitimately for the album's delay. She speaks of the demise of their label DMZ — the boutique Sony imprint launched by the Coen Brothers and T-Bone Burnett — leaving whatever output they managed to muster in limbo anyway. Only "Headless Sky" and "Audience No. 2" survived: The older songs end up benefiting Transit Transit, smoothing out the lapse of years by encapsulating the progression of the band over a single album.
"We had some other obstacles," she offers after a long pause, but then trails off, leaving that lingering sense of a secret deliberately ferreted away that will hang on the air all day.
But Azar is also adamant that we understand neither she nor the band have been idle since 2004. They toured for nearly two years in support of Future Perfect. They bolstered a reputation for being a kind of "band's band," being invited by Trent Reznor to open some Nine Inch Nails dates. They collaborated on the last two UNKLE records. Not long ago, they were picked by Thom Yorke as the opening act for his Atoms for Peace project during their brief West Coast swing. In 2008, they released "Audience No. 2" as a single. It wasn't until last year that Autolux had ever embarked on their own headlining tour, however brief. And on her own, Azar recorded with Polly Jean Harvey and John Parish on last year's A Woman a Man Walked By.
"Beginning of next year, we're going to start releasing more things that aren't on the record," she promises. "We exist in our own world. People evolve and they have their own system. We have our own system. We're constantly confused by the system out there."
Out there is up a flight of wooden stairs and full of the day's loud sunlight, where Azar now stands askew in silvery pants and a flowing white top, her angular black hair pinned in parts to evoke something vaguely Japanese. With a hand held up to block out the light, the other gripped around her phone, it takes her a moment before she registers the exact meaning of my next question: "Where am I going?"
She dials a number into her phone. "Well, just pick a place now," she says into it with some exasperation. "He's standing right here." She hangs up, apologizes, offers up the name of a café for the next interview, and says dryly, "You've been Autoluxed."
Regardless of the intervening years, Transit Transit is exactly the album you'd want as a fan of their first. There's enough that's familiar here (the aforementioned "Audience No. 2," new single "Supertoys") to guide you into the more unfamiliar forest of the doubtless-mangled psyche from which tumbled the tunes "The Bouncing Wall" and "Highchair." (The latter offers the year's most pleasingly perplexing resolution: "No more thoughts from moving mountains/No more passing out in banks.")
Transit Transit moves and it stutters. It's forward-thinking and vintage. It's like an old-timey reel-to-reel science-fiction film flapping and rattling away, left untended by a projectionist nodding off in the corner of his booth, arms folded across his little red vest, his snoring a part of the music too. In other words: It's evocative, it's vexing, it's beautiful — and it's great.
READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE.
Posted by Dan Goldin at 12:06 AM