Automatisme is the moniker of one William Jourdain, a producer from Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec who blends field samples he creates with ambient, dub, glitch, and bits of drone. Automatisme’s music falls into the more experimental end of electronic music as his new album, Transit, takes calculated samples from field recordings made at transit sites in Canada. It’s an ingenious method of soundtracking urban spaces to communicate notions of landscape and places in transition. Transit will release on 24 August via Montreal’s Constellation Records, a label well-noted for its catalog of forward-looking experimental music.
Automatisme’s sound is influenced by the seminal work of ’90s artists like Pan Sonic, Pole, and Alva Noto, and he expands the palette considerably for minimalistic electronic music with his singular approach. Take a listen to “Bureau 1”, the first track released from Transit, close your eyes, and place yourself inside the landscape of sound that Automatisme paints.
Automatisme gives PopMatters his statement of intent on creating this new music:
“The concept of the Transit album came after doing field recording ballads for a few years. Automatisme is sensitive to the aesthetic richness and to the temporal variations of the sound which are present during the sound recording in movement while passing from one place to another. In Transit, all tracks are based from transit sites field recordings and from patches of modular digital instruments. Automatisme’s music is in constant change, because the semi-generative portion uses probabilities and real time improvisation is also present. Thus, each time he performs his tracks, the software calculates the sound generation probabilities differently based on prearranged settings combined with live improvisations, resulting in a unique sonic output. This is how the theme of post-landscaping and transit emerge, because Automatisme presents his music as a form of landscape that combines contemplation and chance.
Automatisme’s pieces mix dub, IDM and semi-generative glitch into a rhythmic foreground that’s layered over a backdrop of continuous field recordings and drones. These tracks encourage the listener to embrace an abstracted version of sound sites that normally have practical functions rather than contemplative ones. Modular digital instruments limits are pushed to create new kinds of landscapes and re-envisioned transits sites.
The field recordings and visuals are all coming from non-places (See Marc Augé, Non-Lieux, 1992) such as bridges, roads and underpasses in Saint-Hyacinthe. Other sounds are drawn from waiting rooms at the Université du Québec à Montréal and from the offices of a contemporary art gallery for a project for the course at the Department of Design of the same university entitled FAM1201 – Espace et Individu (Space and the Individual). Finally, Automatisme visited the Côte-Nord region of Québec in 2016 and in the middle of a forest he found an ancient water evacuation cave near an hydroelectric dam at the Toulnustouc power station. He took the opportunity to capture sounds and images there, and the “Bureau 1″ video images are an abstraction based on the pictures taken there.”