Antiguo Autómata Mexicano: Microhate
Background Records

Like Murcof, Angel Sánchez Borges (aka Antiguo Autómata Mexicano) hails from Mexico but there the similarities end. Murcof has carved out a fairly unique niche for himself in the electronic field by drawing on the classical works of Erik Satie and Holy Minimalists like Pärt and Górecki. Microhate, by comparison, refers (overtly at least) to nothing but itself, although its deeply textured style renders Mexicano a perfect addition to the Background Records roster.

As with many of the label's releases, it seems ludicrous to label it a dance or minimal album. Oh sure, the requisite 4/4 does reliably chug along in many tracks but Microhate's best appreciated as a 'listening' experience above all else. And, like other Background Records releases, you won't hear pounding beats but rather nuanced techno that buoyantly floats alongside billowing swirls of incessant activity (the sweetly swaying title track a perfect case in point); with its prominent bass drum and deeply slithering bass lines, “Banquet” is the singular instance when Microhate flirts with straight 'dance' techno.

While a uniform style establishes itself over the course of the album, differences emerge too. “Fluvial,” a brooding industrial soundscape of machine whirrs and string plucks, offers a stark contrast to the delicately sculpted melancholy that bleeds through the skeletal melody traces of “Enemy Smashed.” Almost dubby in its drifting quality, the opener “Florian Fricke” is particularly beautiful. Here muffled clusters and rumbling clanks fade and cascade but so subtly a distracted listener might hear little more than an undefined blur. Equally strong is “Detector” where serpentine bass lines crawl through murky layers of static, offsetting the insistent treble pulse of another bass line and gentle eruptions of hiss.

Only the Microhate title puzzles: why christen a recording of such sophisticated restraint with such an angry label? Does doing so signify Mexicano's distaste for the 'micro' and 'minimal' labels his music courts? It's impossible to tell but it's nonetheless a peripheral issue. What counts, amigos, is the music and in that regard Microhate impresses as another in Background Records' ever-growing catalogue of superior releases.

January 2005