Le Car - Auto-Reverse

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  • Techno has been tied to Detroit's once fabled auto industry since Cybotron's "Alleys Of Your Mind" and "Cosmic Cars." Le Car, a duo comprising Ian R. Clark and ADULT.'s Adam Lee Miller, also linked the industry to techno's close cousin, electro. They released a handful of EPs in the mid to late '90s through Miller's Ersatz Audio label, but, unless you're an electro head, you probably haven't heard of Le Car. Though the duo's first EP was roughshod—the kind of record two Submerge fanboys might have made around then—Le Car quickly developed into something greater, reaching their apex with the 1997 album Automatic before Miller moved onto ADULT., and Clark became Perspects. Auto-Reverse, released via Clone Classic Cuts following a 7-inch reissue on the label earlier this year, collects highlights from the Le Car catalogue. It isn't the first Le Car compilation, or even the most comprehensive—Ersatz Audio put out the exhaustive Auto-Biography in 2000—but it's a welcome look at a discography that deserves a critical reevaluation. Even though Auto-Reverse isn't sequenced chronologically, it gives you an idea of the group's development, and, more importantly, their sense of humour. "Car Scene One," from Le Car's final batch of original material, 1998's Auto-Motif, is a fantastically silly intro in which one robot invites another for a drive as they listen to electro. It fuses the experience of driving with electro music itself, a sort of meta commentary that underlines the difference between Le Car's electro and the political energy and out-there ideas of some of their Detroit contemporaries The compilation's music can be split into two camps: raw, bare bones electro where percussive and melodic elements are hard to distinguish, and mature compositions that foreground melody and atmosphere. The latter tracks have more character, but the former are dance floor gold. Tracks like "Audiofilefive" and the stomping "Audiofileseven," from the duo's debut EP, Auto-Fuel, convey their appeal instantly. Bass-heavy and catchy, this is electro with swagger where Le Car make every element count. When they go straight to the core of the genre, as with "#15 (S'prang)," the mischief of their skeletal robo-funk calls back to the most joyous dance floor moments of mid-'80s electro. The tracks from the Automatic album are another story entirely. "Malice" and "Warm Humans" have hummable melodies and killer drum programming; the handclaps on the latter are enough to make you wish it was twice as long. Tracks like "Aluminium Rectangles," meanwhile, illustrate how quickly the group grew after their first two records, reinforcing the steel-and-glass template of their earlier sound with gut-punching kicks and hi-resolution synths. One thing that Auto-Reverse has over Auto-Biography is "Vinyl Seat," a previously unreleased track that shows the duo's knack for arrangement. Its many moving parts are expertly positioned, and the crushed, overdriven synth lead is exactly the right kind of wrong, an aggressive moment with a lighthearted touch. There is such variety within Le Car's sound—there's also the Cybotron-esque "Cinematic-Automatic" and the Drexciyan "Beau Ideal"—that it's hard not to wonder where else they could have gone had they stuck together. Auto-Reverse is, essentially, a history lesson—albeit a fun one—and a chance to take a second look at an underappreciated chapter of the Detroit electro canon.
  • Tracklist
      01. Car Scene One 02. Audiofileseven 03. Audiofile 12 04. Audiofilefive 05. Audiofilenine 06. Motorway Sparks: AF18 07. Vinyl Seat 08. Audiofile 10 09. #15 (S'prang) 10. AF16 (The Concept Car) 11. Aluminium Rectangles 12. Malice 13. 20/20 14. Warm Humans 15. Version 19 16. Cinematic-Automatic 17. Flame Job 18. Fony 19. Beau Ideal 20. Final Auto Attendant