Antiguo Autómata Mexicano: Chez Nobody

Not a heterogeneous junk pile of disconnected genres, nor a seamless fusion of them, Chez Nobody is instead a loosely hybridized indie electronic creature that careens forward in pitches and rolls almost despite itself.

Antiguo Autómata Mexicano

Chez Nobody

Label: Static Disco
US Release Date: 2009-05-19
UK Release Date: 2009-04-13
Artist website

"Chez Nobody is the place of no one and everybody, of this and of that, a place where languages fuse and where the need for experiences emerge. A place where all the possible experiences in the world are immediate and forever."

Without saying anything terrifically substantive or making a clarion-clear point, Antiguo Autómata Mexicano (AAM) main man Ángel Sánchez Bórges nailed the appeal of his strange and attractive EP in two sentences better than I could in 20. Mexico has lately become a haven for electronic producers, but only AAM would be qualified to play the Chez Nobody, if film director Julien Temple's fictional creation were an actual place. As his compatriots stick more or less to the tenets of minimal techno, exemplified by Discos Konfort's Minimas Texturas series, AAM smears kosmische musik, lounge pop, funk and free jazz like paints onto a crumbling brick wall. It's a little of this and a little of that, arranged on a wobbly template in unexpected ways, and the outcome is nearly as brilliant as Sánchez Bórges' phenomenal (and disastrously underrated) turn as Seekers Who Are Lovers in 2006.

Not a heterogeneous junk pile of disconnected genres, nor a seamless fusion of them, Chez Nobody is instead a loosely hybridized indie electronic creature that careens forward in pitches and rolls almost despite itself. There's more rock in this record than AAM's first wide release, Kraut Slut, but it's sweltering and disorienting and not very rockish—less deserving of the post-rock tag than the more iridescent "future rock." A lot of this has to do with Sánchez Bórges' newest addition to the AAM lineup, Carlos Icaza, who doubles on bass and an acoustic drum kit. If the deep bass streamlines the tracks and lends them order, the drums are its opposite, moving on and off the meter as if they're trying to throw the other instruments for a loop. Along with Sánchez Bórges' protean guitar and keyboard treatments, Icaza keeps the groove inconsistent and perpetually off-balance. It's compelling stuff, even as it fails—nay, refuses—to hook the listener on the first, second, tenth spins.

What on earth, for example, is happening in "Jukebox Essentiele"? After listening to it about 75 times (this one actually hooked me right away), only one thing is certain: it's sexy, and I'm not talking about Jan Jelinek's clicky bedroom eyes, but heaving, sweaty, full-bodied lust. Everything else is sort of a mystery. Is it fast or slow? (The acoustic and programmed drums seem to be playing at two different tempos.) There's a sense of progression, but how is it really progressing, and where to? The song appears to thrive on just this kind of obliqueness, on the fact that we'll never get to the bottom of it; it's like lifting a trapdoor to reveal another trapdoor below it. One time I took it on a run and played it on repeat, and the experience was both utterly dazzling and incredibly confusing. I suppose that since my requirements for running music are simplicity and propulsion, this just wasn't going to compute. I'm still not quite sure how to listen to "Jukebox Essentiele" and the rest of Chez Nobody, and I mean that as a very high compliment indeed.


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.