Christ, nearly a year already since the first album? Things have advanced somewhat since then for Tony Young – the man behind Autoclav 1.1 – following a number of triumphant live performances, not least his appearance at Infest in August, the profile has been raised quite a bit, and so there has been yet more interest in how that proverbial difficult second album will fare.
To start with, and on first listen at least, the signs for this second album were not good. Maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind, or wasn’t listening to it intently enough, but it simply did very little for me at all, with the exception of a handful of tracks.
On subsequent listens, while much of the album has opened up for me, I still can’t get into the opening two tracks, Small Days and Fault. Both have similar beat patterns, string samples and overall feel, and it feels difficult to seperate the tracks – and going on between them for nearly nine minutes, they overstay their welcome by some distance.
To a point, By My Own Admission continues the same feel, but adding piano into the mix, which for reasons I can’t quite pinpoint makes it a more complete track. Still, after the relative calm of the first few tracks, it all explodes into life with the glorious This Is Untitled, with beats that scatter like pouring rain while still driving forward, and with all kinds of strange, cut-up voices weaving in and out of the digital madness. The power of this track really harms what follows it – Obligatory Interlude Pt.1 – in my opinion, as it simply has little to keep you listening.
Good thing that All Unwired and Behind You does, then. Less of the ambience, and more of the beats – a number of rhythmic patterns all seemingly overlaid. One of those tracks that you try to nod your head to, and tie yourself in knots doing so – all the better simply to listen. Unusually titled Nothing But Pillow Teeth is a slightly unexpected one, bringing what are not far off from being hip-hop-esque beats to the table. Although it quite clearly has a deliberately sparse feel, I’d be fascinated to see what would happen if vocals were added to it.
Talking of vocals…they take a surprising and effective centre-stage on miags, a collaboration with Pneumatic Detach and spoken word project It-Clings. The skittering beats return in parts here, with other parts of relative calm, with much of it overlaid with the somewhat nihilistic and questioning vocals of It-Clings.
Dead Sea Tears seems to take on influences from marching music, at least in the way the track seems to move forward, but is hamstrung by seemingly the same mournful string sample that has already been woven into a number of tracks before it. We All Have A Window ends the album where we started – calm ambience, somehow more effective here than elsewhere on the album.
Appending remixes onto the end of noise albums seems to be de rigeur at present, but the differing nature of them here again requires mention of them. First one is the Unter Null remix of By My Own Admission, which radically rebuilds the track with a haunting, faster paced feel to quite stunning effect.
Small Days is tackled by Stendeck, and again is altered hugely, mainly by some distorted, measured beats, while Detritus turns Fault into something of his own (and I love the rhythmic pattern on this). The album is rounded off my another mix of Small Days, this time by Displacer, which falls into the trap, seemingly, of not actually adding that much to the original…
In the end, the second album difficulty has reared it’s head a little. Autoclav 1.1 live and on record seem to be two very different beasts, and this album reflects this by heading in two disparate directions. On the one hand, there is the ambience that much of the album wallows in, and on the other hand there are the speaker-busting bursts that only appear fleetingly. And the latter is a shame, as the live show thrives on tracks like that – although some of the ideas on this album point towards an interesting future if they are taken up. Anyway, with a better balance of the two sides, this album could have been truly brilliant – as it is, it is only very good.