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Eat Lights, Become Lights – Autopia

Enraptured

The most obvious thing to say about Autopia in the first instance is that Eat Lights, Become Lights are unafraid of putting their influences to the fore, wearing them proudly as signposts to a whole series of strands of underground music across the decades, and as with their live shows, their début album takes the hints and explicit quotations and rebuilds them as a thoroughly enveloping gestalt creation of high-energy motorik (and more). The results are pleasingly more than just the mere sum of the parts of musics which have been driven from the underground into the overground since the exponential rise of artists who languished in apparently forgotten obscurity (such as Silver Apples, with whom Eat Lights toured recently and who remixed their “Test Drive” 7″ single to boot) to obtain their rightful recognition by generations not even born at the time they disappeared into half-remembered limbo, let alone first appeared to wreak a subtle shift in the direction and nuances of electronic (rock) music.

So where to Eat Lights, Become Lights fit in the scheme of things? As the ever-present live act and organisers of Klub Motorik, they have helped keep the (non)genre on dancefloors on the London scene for a start, following again in a tradition which emerged in the psychedelic post-(so-called)Krautrock age via the heady days of the Kosmische Club and into a fragmented live and club landscape which needs to give the motorik pulse a home (which is also to be found in the hands of the Time Signals crew too) among the many and diverse nights out in a city teeming with single-genre as well as multi-faceted mashup nights where anything any everything goes. It’s this sense of being part of a still-vibrant scene, no matter how widely it might be cast, which goes a long way to explain Eat Lights’ sound and where those influences crop up again (and again, and again).

The aforementioned “Test Drive” is a case in point, kicking the LP into gear with a surge of sparkly guitar and sundry FX  propelling the song above the bedrock of the core driving rhythm, the whole wrapped in a glittering electronic sheen which speaks so brightly of the future’s immense vistas of possibility that it practically requires sunglasses to listen to the urgent swirl and dive of the simple, naggingly catchy earworm melody. As the album progresses, the sense of an onward headlong rush into an appropriately vehicular utopian dreamstate soon becomes overwhelming, the titles spelling out the imagery of “Musik for Motorways,””All Aboard” and that ever-popular signifier of futuristic pollution-free travel, “Monorail,” music which is determined to make its presence felt with a an almost ruthless, twinkling optimism.

All of which is not to gainsay the music’s deft construction or its powerful urge to shimmy and shake down the dancing shoes until the night wears thin and the reborn daybreak brings up the lights and the club fug clears. “If only life could be like this” is what Autopia promises, and “all the time” is its coda. Good clean fun, which like good clean energy, is something for the pure in hope to yearn after, and sometimes even achieve. But Eat Lights, Become Lights are also happy to drive the beat and the drone over the edge, to test the limits of the power which guitar, bass, drums and electronics can have on the human heart, brain and feet, that visceral knife-wielding glint which sparked at the corner of Add N to (X)‘s prowling analogue snarl making itself felt aslongside the drugged-up sleepytime drifts of Spacemen 3 or the ambient insertions of airport/spacestation PA announcements into the mix.

Just as with the Seventies and Eighties wave of German musicians – do names really still need to be named? – there is often as much up-beat backbrain stiumulating electronica here as there is the stripped-down, pumping cardio-vascular system of of rock and roll, and the blend which Eat Lights, Become Lights achieve is one to be praised for never teetering over fully into the abyss of bland niceness. Instead, they rev up the mood and kick their good-time moves into gear as often as the arpeggiating synths soar, glockenspiels chime, or the beats flutter, with hymns to the hardcore Detroit dancefloor infiltrating the trainspotter-pleasing nods to Düsseldorf on occasion too.

As with other bands quite content to show where they’re coming from – see also spacerockers [post=”mugstar-lime” text=”Mugstar”] or even (somewhat further back, heavyweight dubbers Audio Active) – and developing on thoughts prompted by their recently gig in support of industrial floorfillers [post=”k-x-p-eat-lights” text=”K-X-P”] – Eat Lights, Become Lights do what they do without irony and pay homage while neatly sidestepping the issue of how much copyism their music contains by the simple expedient of knowing their tradition so thoroughly that they simply become part of it.

-Linus Tossio-

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