Artist name: The Automatics Group
Title: auto 17
Catalogue no.: AUTO 17
12" vinyl only - 2 tracks - 23:21
Mastered by Jason at Transition

Ltd edition of 500 copies

Track listing:

Side A: 10:39

Side B: 12:46

If you buy the vinyl here you get free:

1 x Side C: 15:11 (digital only)
1 x iphone movie 3:53
and the vinyl tracks (sides a and b) as a digital download

(If you bought the vinyl elsewhere, you can buy Side C and the iphone movie at -

About this release:

Or and the Automatics Group present auto 17, recordings of raw output from 49 configurations of an EMS VCS 3 synthesiser. Sides A and B are released on 12? vinyl with side C available digitally.

The VCS 3 was the first portable modular synthesiser commercially available. Renowned for its ability to produce wide-ranging electronic sound effects, it was sometimes considered problematic when producing melodic sounds due to the instability of its components. Over time, wear, tear and accumulations of oxide have exaggerated these instabilities, making the machines even less predictable.

The recordings in auto 17 are the result of incremental / violent changes to the modular configuration of the machine. Each configuration makes sound that repeats with some level of predictability. With no external intervention for the duration of each recording, patterns vary according to the physical intricacies of the machine – indeterminate fluctuations in voltage etc.

Recorded directly from the two independent outputs of the VCS 3, unusual modulation routing produces a variety of complex relationships between the left and right channels. Timbral, rhythmic and harmonic themes emerge, revealing unexpected properties of the machine.

The Automatics Group undertake projects investigating issues of control, representation, autonomy and formalism. Auto 17 was recorded by Theo Burt and Peter Worth at the Music Research Centre, York (with thanks).


Boomkat (UK):

Fascinating 12" featuring "recordings of raw output from 49 configuration of an EMS VCS 3 synthesizer" released through Russell Haswell's Touch sublabel, Or. As many synth fiends will know, the VCS 3 was the first commercially available portable modular synthesizer, and renowned for it wide range of inherent electronic sound effects. But due to it being an early model, and with the accumulations of oxide which occur over time, the machine is also known for its melodic unpredictability and the microtonal fluctuations which this instability exaggerates. Theo Burt and Peter Worth of the Music Research Centre, York, recorded directly from the two independent outputs of the VCS 3, using unusual, incremental and violent changes to the modulation routing and configuration to produce "a variety of complex relationships between the left and right channels. Timbral, rhythmic and harmonic themes emerge, revealing unexpected properties of the machine." This is a formal investigation into the inner life of the machine, producing results that could never be created with a computer and are worthy for this reason at the very least. If you're a fan of Eleh - do not miss this.

Bubblegum Cage lll (blog):

Another promo! What’s going on here? Well, better not to look a gift horse in the mouth. You keep sending ‘em, this here blog will keep reviewing ‘em. This one was particularly welcome as the label was good enough to have an actual vinyl copy sent – and because the label in question is Russell Haswell‘s Touch-affiliated boutique operation, Or.
The Automatics Group is Theo Burt and Peter Worth, from York, UK. Auto 17 presents a series of short tracks, produced by recording the raw output from various patches on a vintage analogue synthesizer (an EMS VCS 3, to be precise). Burt and Worth’s background seems to be in in academic composition and audio art, so they don’t take the approach you’d expect from analogue synth twiddlers (who tend to be stoned indie-rock hipsters). Instead of warm, atmospheric drones, this record delivers short bursts of startlingly alien sound.

The approach is distinctly abstract and formalistic. The pieces make no pretense to representing any particular mood or emotion or even to being music, in any recognizable sense. The results are both alienating and invigorating – bound to make the average listener reconsider his/her limited and platitudinous perceptions of what a vintage synthesizer can/should do.

There’s something about this record that recalls an analogue take on the lab-coated digital madness unleashed by first-generation Mego acts like General Magic and Farmers Manual. In the waveform realm, the nearest comparison would be to a severely time-constrained version of Coil’s experiments in time travel.

Further information/reviews
For more information, please visit this product's webpage.

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MP3 sample

Track 1:  auto 17

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