Automation - Triple Helix Records
Automation were two producers from Gravesend in Kent who produced some rip-roaring techno/hardcore between 1991 and 1993. The majority of their tracks were fast and hard, making great use of stabs, bleeps and sci-fi noises. They were relatively well produced, both in terms of sound quality and structure.
Although popular back in the day with support from Joey Beltram, Kev Bird, Colin Faver and Aphex Twin, their tracks are rarely heard in contemporary old skool sets, possibly because many of them fall somewhere between techno and UK hardcore.
Automation and the Triple Helix label were pretty much interlinked, with all bar one release on the label originating from the duo. The highlight on their first release, Espionage, is a dreamy track with a slow amen drumbeat and bleeps sampled from Kraftwerk. Pretty simple but effective. Ten years on, Luke Vibert reworked the track as Ataride under his Wagon Christ alias.
The second EP, The Appliance of Science, steps the Automation sound up a gear in pace and intensity. Beginning with T99 stabs, tribal chants and screams, building to a "This Is Sick!" sample before bringing everything crashing back in like a train crash. Awesome stuff, that would probably see most contemporary clubbers running for the fire exit.
The third EP, the Red EP, begun the colour series. Featuring the beautiful detroit inspired Comedown, this presented the diversity in the Automation sound and quality they could achieve.
However, in the spirit of hardcore, it couldn't all be serious and Automation weren't afraid to throw a remix of William Tell's Overture, Bloodsport, onto the same release, complete with hunting horns and cock-a-doodle-doo samples! The tongue-in-check outlook continued on other releases with tracks like 'Wild-E', sampling Road Runner's famous Cayote. When you had three other belting tracks, this experimentation was simply amusing.
The pinnacle of their back catalogue, the Remix EP, contains four remixes which surpass many of the originals. The Doomsday Remix contains every element that makes Automation great. From the mysterious spoken intro, "My children, the only true technology...", to its underlying moaning and tribal chants, to the brilliant breakdown with the pitch shifting stabs. Dark and brooding, but always danceable and easily accessible.
Also worth a mention is the super-fast Speedway, played by Joey Beltram to great effect at the Galactica Rave in 1992 at 4m 40s:
The full track can be heard here.
I'm not certain what happened to the release with catalogue number 'AUTO1', as the Triple Helix label starts at 'AUTO2', but interestingly AUTO1 corresponds to Kraftwerk's Autobahn album, so its a possibility the Automation name and initial catalogue number was a homage to the pioneers of electronic music.
Aside from hardcore, both producers composed a small number of other tracks in the early 90s under aliases including I.D. and Unlocking the Astal, but I haven't managed to track down anything more recent.
I created a short 30 minute mix of the best Automation tracks last year. Some of the mixing is not up to the standards I'd like, but it got a good response:
2. Tramp On 45
6. The Appliance Of Science (Techno Mix)
7. Pacemaker (Remix)
8. Vinyl Warfare
9. Doomsday (Remix)