London-based twosome autoKratz have been heralded as the “flag bearers for the new wave of British electronic music”. Truth be told, it is hard to detect anything particularly novel about their take on electronic music, or what distinguishes the NWOBEM from the countless electro acts that have gone before.
This terrain has already been painstakingly mapped out by an array of beats-armed cartographers. Of course, we could mention the legacy of those German innovators, or the DJs who first loosed such sounds in the clubs of Detroit and Chicago, or the New York electro progenitors. Closer to home there were the Eighties practitioners who took this nascent music out of the clubs, refined it and pushed it into the pop charts; men armed only with primitive synthesizers and some leather bondage gear. Soft Cell, we salute you. Elsewhere, it is clear that autoKratz have stumbled upon the trail of Depeche Mode: ‘Speak In Silence’, eh? If the title isn’t a giveaway, then the storm cloud fringed ambience most definitely is. Meanwhile, in contemporary terms, we’re talking Simian Mobile Disco, Justice, Vitalic, The Presets et al.
However, let me draw an analogy with Ranulph Fiennes’ recent ascent of Everest. Yes, there were a multitude there before him, but damn it’s still a hell of an achievement for the old bugger. And ‘Animal’ is a hell of an achievement, an album of multiple peaks, each of them breathtaking. ‘Past Your Heart’ and ‘Can’t Get Enough’ are designed for optimum dancefloor carnage; ‘Stay The Same’ is like Hot Chip with a jump-lead up the jacksie, whilst the pulsing momentum of ‘Gone Gone Gone’ betrays the influence of Kraftwerk; and ‘Human Highway’ proves that when they take their foot off the accelerator the results are entrancing.
So, whilst ‘Animal’ endangered no creative boundaries, there’s no denying that autoKratz track the footsteps of their predecessors with great panache.