Musikautomatika – Musikautomatika (1983 / 2017)
At this point, my appreciation, dedication, and advocacy for the histories of the Latin American avant-garde, with its artists and artifacts, should be well established. These are among the most remarkable and neglected creative gestures of the 20th century, relegated to obscurity by political turmoil, external bias, and a slim amount of documentation. Over the last few years, drawing on the gathering momentum of vinyl reissue culture, awareness of these incredible efforts has begun to grow, and with it an effort to fight the sins of the past – elevating a number of Latin American’s remarkable artists to place they have always deserved. Bit by bit, pieces of the puzzle have come into view. Before us is one such case, one of the most important albums in the canon of Latin American experimental and avant-garde recordings, the Venezuelan trio Musikautomatika’s seminal self-titled debut from 1983, finally reissued by the Spanish imprint Wah Wah.
A central components to the lost histories of Latin America’s avant-garde music, was its role in the rise of Post-War electronic music. It was within these countries that many of the first dedicated electronic music studios were established, their artists establishing regular contact with peers across the globe, creating some of the most striking and singular electronic and electroacoustic music of the era. Of the few artifacts which exist, a brilliant and singular effort released in 1983 by the Venezuelan trio Musikautomatika, has long been among the most celebrated.
For the sake of offering credit were it is due, most of us who have been hunting for this LP, with a number of other similar artifacts of Latin American electronic music, owe our awareness of it to its inclusion in Keith Fullerton Whitman’s incredible Creel Pone series. Single-handedly, Keith’s efforts – his love for, and unflinching faith in this music, have shed more light on this context than anything else. We owe him a great dept, and many thanks. I particularly recommend checking out Creel Pone’s reissues of the Argentinian compilation Música Nueva Latinoamericana and the Cuban survey Música Electroacústica, to catch a broader glimpse of what occurred.
Musikautomatika, which was founded in 1978, is comprised of Luis Levin, Alvise Sachi, and Stefano Gramitto. Their work belongs to a larger movement which swept across Latin America during the 60’s and 70’s – attempts to combine cutting edge electronic processes and ideas, with traditional indigenous musics and structures. A meeting point of art and politics, nothing about this was benign. As they pushed forward, seeking democracy – one eye on the future, the other on the past, they offered a sonic path to heal the scars left by centuries of colonialism. For interested parties, highly recommended parallels can be found within Buh Records’ Sounds Essentials Collection – addressing similar efforts in Peru. Its founder Luis Alvarado, contributed the liner texts to the reissue at hand.
Musikautomatika, as the project emerges across their debut LP – combining elements of free improvisation and electronic process, is an emblem of what made this era of the Latin American avant-garde music so striking, wonderful and unique. Works feel alive and active – processed sounds of water, glass, wood, steel, and traditional instruments, realized as playful celebrations in sound – defying hermetic dogmas and notions of high art. As wild as they are, they never fully depart the natural world. Falling somewhere between efforts which emerged from France’s famed Groupe de Recherches Musicales, the Berlin School of pop electronic music, free jazz, and tradition folk, the LP is bound to keep even the most seasoned listeners on the edge of their seats. A clattering, beautifully structured body of resonance, ambience, and tone – released for the first time on vinyl since 1983, and accompanied by extend liner notes, this is a wonder not to be missed, especially since original copies are virtually impossible to find. Musikautomatika is the opening of an astounding world which few knew, presenting the wilder possibilities that electronic music holds. You can check out the full LP below, and grab it from SoundOhm or a record store near you.
Musikautomatika – Musikautomatika (1983)