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I Asked
According To Plan

SIMON CRAB Demand Full Automation

CD album | gg269
Simon Crab has a long history in music. He is anti-capitalist, a practicing anarchist and strongly against material acquisition. Many years ago, he offered the complete back catalogue by his former band Bourbonese Qualk as free downloads. Nevertheless, people like product, so the Qualk catalogue will be-reissued physically, and Klanggalerie are happy to release his second solo album on Compact Disc. Crab considers himself a non-musician, yet is oddly quite good at playing instruments like the guitar, clarinet, gamelan-percussion and especially electronics. In fact, his favourite musical instrument is the computer. Whereas classically trained musicians often assert that there is no artistry in computers, Crab asserts there is no artistry required to play a musical instrument well. Crab's 'music career' spans nearly four decades and continues until this very day. Demand Full Automation presents our society's choice of either liberating the working class through automation, or further subduing them with it. Enter this rich, and meticulously crafted mostly electro-acoustic narrative with some instrumental excursions, that emphasizes more synthetic than natural textures, and on occasion, a sublime melding of the two. Demand Full Automation continues the narrative; ambient-atmospherically pensive some moments, but mostly energetic and upbeat, and relentlessly marching towards progress. But what kind of progress? Says Crab "At the moment, the proletariat is being replaced by the precariat. It is a really interesting time, apart from all the kind of 'rise of fascism' and globalization. The big issue that nobody is looking at is automation and it seems to me that it can go one of either two ways; that can be the neo-liberal way in which corporates are going to use automation as a way of enriching themselves even further, irrespective of the workforce. The workforce is going to become completely irrelevant. That is the neo-liberal take on it which is a dystopian view of the world and it is clearly not going to end very well. The other view is that if you take more of a Marxist approach, taking control of the means of production, if the workers themselves control automation for the good of themselves, then there is a better future. Automation doesn't have to be a dystopian horror. It can easily be a liberating future." Full tracklist: 1. E11 2. Drop 3. I Asked 4. According To Plan 5. Numbers Station 6. The Long Days 7. Demand Full Automation 8. Dark Harvest 9. Kubark 10. Be Quiet 11. Nothing To Hide 12. Permanent Emergeny 13. Light Shining In Buckinghamshire 14. Exit. Price: € 17,-/copy incl. worldwide shipping.

This album is quite an unusual convergence of curious artistic choices, unexpected anachronisms, and seemingly contradictory impulses roughly united by Crabs vision of Automation as a futurist narrative that anticipates our world at a crossroads where either machines liberate the working class to pursue meaningful tasks, or automation is used as yet a another tool to subdue. In practical stylistic terms, Demand Full Automation is an album with very high production quality, as each song has been painstakingly polished to vibrant, crystalline clarity. There is also a very conscious mingling of organic instrumentation, modern electronics, deep human emotion, and exacting precision, albeit not always an entirely seamless one. While the glittering, crisp production is by far the most immediately striking surprise that Automation offers, Crabs restless genre-shifting is yet another unexpected curveball. (...) Despite being an incredibly varied and occasionally puzzling album, Automation is a remarkably well-crafted whole in which each song flows seamlessly into the next. As far as songcraft and craftsmanship are concerned, this album is unquestionably the high-water mark of Crabs career, as almost nothing about Automation feels meandering, improvised, exploratory, or cluttered: nearly every piece is a stylish, masterfully executed gem of perfect focus.
(Brainwashed, May 2018)

Demand Full Automation conceptually addresses the paradox of a technologically advanced society in which machines could theoretically liberate humanity from work, but instead are used as tools of surveillance, or to promote a culture of consumerism. Moments can feel a little anodyne, perhaps intentionally – the placid triphop of E11 might be hold music or Muzak drifting through some deserted mall. Elsewhere, Crabs blending of Kraftwerkian electropop, gamelan and adventurous sound design strikes more ambiguous moods.
(The Wire, July 2018)

Still sweating away in summers heat, Simon Crab plays some lovely music, all with the use of computers, samplers and electronics. One push button music, you may ask, looking at the title, and maybe it is true, but these machines ooze life, melody and freshness. (...) It is again very melodic, not as dense or dark as Bourbonese Qualk once could be, but fresh, light, moving from ambient to techno to hip-hop rhythms; rhythms play anyway an important role here, along with neatly bouncing synthesizer patterns. This is a great album. Intelligent as well as accessible and as poppy as it is ambient. Excellent!
(Vital Weekly, July 2018)