Experimental Electronic Producer Automatisme Produces a Work of Sonic Cubism with ' Transit'

Photo: Marilyn Lamoureux / Courtesy of Constellation Records

On Transit producer William Jourdain a.k.a. Automatisme takes his avant-garde notions to the next level.



24 August 2018

Constellation, the famed experimental record label from Canada might be known for releasing most of the monumental works from Montreal's post-rock scene, but surely and steadily they have also been putting out some intriguing works of experimental electronic music. An example was Joni Void's 2017 Selfless, an excellent specimen of the adventurous side of electronic music. Another artist that has found a home in Constellation is no other than William Jourdain, known from his project Automatisme.

With Automatisme Jourdan walks down a path paved by a long lineage of iconoclastic producers, including the likes of Mika Vainio and Carsten Nicolai. By finding a point of origin in the use of field recordings, Jourdain transforms these sonic landscapes into a range of different sceneries. Through the use of rhythmic glitch, noise, sonic collage, and slow drones, Automatisme carves out an avant-garde music ethic, which encapsulates ideas from dub techno to power electronics. Having released his debut album, Momentform Accumulations a few years back, and continuing to build a strong discography with his collaboration with Erinome in Post-Landscape and the self-released E.T.I Space, Transit Et Indivu, Jourdain now sets out on a new journey with Transit.

As the title of the album suggests, this is a record that does not stay still. It is always moving between different moods and areas with great fluidity. The kickoff to this work is intriguing as it introduces the ambient side of Automatisme with a mystical quality before the glitch element takes over in a most emphatic manner. But, despite the schizoid element, Jourdain navigates through, there is always a return towards this atmospheric edge in its different manifestations. "Bureau 3" presents a dense atmosphere, as the constant, piercing frequency carries over the deep sounding synth percussion building an alarming sense with its subtle increase in volume over time. On the other hand, "Bateau 2" sees a more serene viewpoint rise to the surface as the synths arrive like waves from an unknown point of origin.

The drone element is one of the key factors in creating such a strong and diverse ambiance for the record. Still, Jourdain does not offer a pedestrian rendition of drone music and performs some interesting sonic alchemy to achieve this result. "Bureau 1" sees this complicated quality come forth, as Automatisme lays down the foundation of the ambiance through the use of drones, with Jourdain causing the track to evolve through the incorporation of glitch elements slowly. The resulting ambiance is asphyxiating, radiating with a claustrophobic quality as if you find yourself trapped inside a submarine deep under the surface of the sea.

Where drone and ambient elements form the foundation of this work, it is the glitch and noise qualities that provide its inhuman heartbeat. The harsh quality of that scene gives a volatile and unpredictable characteristic to the progression. The opening track features such a wonderful field of sonic collages, with Jourdain pushing into the power electronics territory with his extravagant ideas. At the same time, this element interacts with the rhythmic aspects of the record, laying out some bizarre beats. "Bureau 2" sees the soft, palpable synth percussion adding to the movement caused by the glitchy synth, creating this illusion of conflict between the subtle quality of the rhythm and the electrifying presence of glitch.

While Jourdain investigates the experimental spaces of electronic music, he does not forget where the foundations of the genre lie. Producing interpretations of techno music with his own brew of post-techno and dub techno notions, he unveils the excellent "Registrariat". The monotonous beating of techno music meets with the droning background and the expressive sound design of Jourdain to create a sublime result, which gives rise to a blissful scenery. This perspective is also prevalent in "Bateau 1", which is one of the catchier moments of the record featuring vocal samples that aid in its urgent rendition.

The interpretation of the field recordings through this impressive barrage of drones, glitch, noise and sound design make Transit feel like a work of sonic cubism. While the shapes and edges of the original structures are still present and the overall offering displays many qualities of electronic music, the result is one of true avant-garde expression. Jourdain performs an extravagant process of transformation, one that mutates and, to an extent, mutilates the qualities of the original recordings, in a most fascinating way.






A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.


Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.


PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.


'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.


Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.


Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.


Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.


The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.


Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.


Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.


Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.


'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.


Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.


Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.


Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.


The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.