Autistici | Detached Metal Voice
Time: March 10
Media: Limited CD (Wallet) & Digital Download
Info: A collection of early works exploring the raw
extrusion of the human condition. Bringing together
abstract early works, Detached Metal Voice is
characterised by a detached narrative, AT&T
voiceovers provide threads of psychological
association, rhythmic neo-classical arrangements and
noise electronic jazz improvisations provide the
Artist site: http://www.autistici.com
PDF Press Release: Download
QUESTIONS | Autistici
Who are you?
Why do you write music?
It is my outlet and creative expression for what I have to
take in, hold and make sense of.
How would you describe your music?
Abstract, ambient, dissected and reconstructed
structures of sound.
What does this album mean for you?
This is important work for me. Written at time when I first
had the equipment to express myself how I wanted to. A
collection of tracks exploring the raw extrusion of the
human condition. Bringing together early works,
Detached Metal Voice is characterised by an abstract
narrative exploring the anxiety of disconnected elements
striving to find connection in a world of digital
communication. AT&T voiceovers provide threads of
psychological association, rhythmic neo-classical
arrangements and noise electronic jazz improvisations
provide the backdrop.
Many experimental techniques are in place within the
creative process of these tracks. Laboratory sinewave
oscillators sweep through many of the tracks, tones are
produced from simple homemade synthesisers. There is
a homage to voice synthesis including excerpts taken
from many of the early laboratory attempts to produce
the human voice through the mode of synthesis,
including work pioneered by Philip Rubin from the
Haskins Laboratories, Tom Baer, and Paul Mermelstein.
This synthesizer, known as ASY, was based on vocal
tract models developed at Bell Laboratories in the 1960s
and 1970s by Paul Mermelstein, Cecil Coker, and
“Babyman” illustrates my fascination in hearing
machines talking about emotive subjects, emulating
emotive tonal changes and yet having no real connection
to the subjective emotional experience. Alternatively
tracks such as “Whispering Mongo Man” contains a 15
minute interview with John Lennon with all the words
spoken by John deleted from the sound file…. Leaving
only the intake and exhalation of breath. With the
content missing we are left with a sense of emotion
contained within the spaces – the working of a man’s
body. The tracks encourage the listener to consider the
complex question of how meaning, relationships and
connections are constructed, communicated and
Can you elaborate on some of your creative
I immerse myself in the sounds and pour out my inner
perspective into and around the material. Sculpting,
engaging with and mutating the sound forms. I've always
been interested in the idea that every human thought,
feeling and action has a beginning, a middle and an end.
And so it is with my music, it is an aesthetic that allows
all to be and to have form and to express itself and
have its impact - before disintegration occurs.
|REVIEWS | Detached Metal Voice - Early Works (Vol I)
Shortly after releasing his second album, Complex Tone Test, David Newman, a British composer and sound
designer better known under the moniker Autistici, is back at work with a new project. In Detached Metal Voice,
from the first volume of the "Early Works", a body of noisy audio data, imperfections and interferences seem to
be arranged in quite rarefied sequences, and may also include different recordings, with an abstract
conceptual result. A somewhat eager narrative, full of experimental dynamics and rather diverse techniques,
enacted with restraint and stylistic mastery. In the heterogeneity of the plots, there are even minimal jazzy
grooves - in very hybrid forms - reflections of an "emotional" execution that the author doesn't eschew,
fascinated by a plethora of influences and references. Dynamic elements overlap quite vividly and in a
participative way, sometimes favoring more metallic and rhythmical scores, but always conveying a disturbing
feeling of acoustic pollution. Aurelio Cianciotta.
Early Works, as the title suggests, is a collection of previously unreleased compositions recorded by David
Newman within the last decade. This is a rasterized array of sounds, bleeps, clicks, and field recordings, ala
musique concrète digitalis. The first volume, subtitled Detached Metal Voice, is a selection of early works
“exploring the anxiety of disconnected elements striving to find connection in a world of digital communication.”
These are experimental pieces with many exploratory techniques and tools, like sinewave oscillators, home-
made tone generators, and works with ASY, a synthesizer based on vocal tract models developed at Bell
Laboratories in the 60s. Be sure to check out Whispering Mongo Man, featuring an audio interview with John
Lennon, composed entirely out of edited-out speech, leaving behind the space occupied by his breath. “The
tracks encourage the listener to consider the complex question of how meaning, relationships and connections
are constructed, communicated and perceived.".
Featuring rare early works and previously unreleased tracks, Detached Metal Voice showcases some of
Autistici's most experimental material, exploring electroacoustic dissections of what might once have been
classical music ('Morphine (Detail)'), cut-up voices and odd sound poetry ('Babyman'), plus digitally mutated jazz
('Colonic People'). One of the weirdest entries has to be 'Whispering Mongo Man', which takes audio from a John
Lennon interview, only to erase all the words, leaving just the residual sounds left by his breathing. Intriguing
stuff throughout, and all very different from the 12k release Volume Objects, for which Autistici is probably best
THE MILK FACTORY
It’s barely been a few months since Autistici’s second album, Complex Tone Test, was released, yet here
comes another collection of fine electronic music from David Newman, published on his excellent Audiobulb
imprint. This time though, the album collates early recordings and brings a variety of experiments under one
umbrella. No indication is given to when these tracks were recorded, but they are linked by a taste for retro-
futuristic technologies, especially early voice synthesis experiments developed in the sixties and seventies in
the US by the Bell Laboratories, an AT&T research site based in New Jersey, and old style electronic
The album draws influences from far beyond the electronica realm, occasionally hinting at classical or jazz
forms, yet the result is predominantly electronic and textural in aspect, using a vast array of glitches and sonic
interferences at the core of each piece. This defines the record right from the opening track, On A Beach Of
Pure Data, which kicks off with a constant discharge of electricity before getting into a mechanical groove, and
continues to cast a shadow throughout the record. Things become a tad warmer on Colonic People thanks to
a particularly effective jazz groove, nicely finished by sporadic lashes of rounded double bass, but the track
is drowned in toxic layers of noise and reverb towards the end, and things are back to harsh metallic rhythmic
patterns, sometimes tainted with ominous strips of ambient soundscapes (It Contains A Diagnosis, Beneath) at
others left bare and dry (Ligaments, BlaK BloK).
On Babyman, Newman puts very human and real interactions and emotions into the imaginary mouths of
computers to create a rather disturbing dystopian tale. Do robots dream of electric sheep? Who knows, but in
the hands of Newman, computers seem capable of some sentiments, synthetic or otherwise. On Whispering
Mongo Man, he puts the voice through a very different process. Using a John Lennon interview as primary
source, but removing all traces of words spoken by the interviewee, retaining only his breathing, Newman totally
obliterates the message, leaving the listener to imagine the missing content. Only vague pointers are thrown in
with other ghostly processed voices to occasionally try to make sense, rather unsuccessfully it has to be said,
of the lost discussion. Elsewhere, fragments of conversations find their way through the corrosive beats of It
Contains A Diagnosis, while heavy breathing, at times unprocessed, at others distorted, give the already
inhospitable They Move On Me a dark twist.
On the whole, Detached Metal Voice is a much more menacing and tensed collection than Autistici’s recent album,
and while it is a less consistent record, due possibly to its tracks having been presumably recorded over a period
of time, it is still a very fine collection of assertive electronica by a confident musician. If this record is anything to
go by, another trip down the Autistic vaults of unreleased music is definitely something to look forward to: roll on
David Newman embarks on a retrospective of his embryonic sound world, prompted perhaps by having
completed a decade of exploratory endeavour, wanting to take stock of his developmental trajectory. Autistici's
nascent voice emerges somewhat croakily on Detached Metal Voice - Early Works (Vol. 1), 'a collection of early
works exploring the raw extrusion of the human condition'. In keeping with its theme, these are more discomfiting
scenarios than in his more mature work, the tone set by a harsher retro-futurist sonology. We're in territory where
the now tired epithet experimental reverts to a previous signification; difficult. The clinical psychologist (Newman's
day-job) is more of an auteur here, musical vehicle affording a channel for re-processing elements of his
experiential world through abstract sound. For the listener the album is likely to work differently from Newman's
almost therapeutic deployment; in fact, with euphonic considerations decidedly on hold, the unsuspecting listener
may be in for a rough audio-ride.
The eponymous voice (incl. Bell Laboratories' voice synthesis experiments of the 60s/70s) incides in dislocated
fragments consorting with DIY synths and sinewave oscillators and a cornucopia of sonic detritus in diverse,
faintly dystopian, settings. Specific pieces manifest a shifting skittish nature, like "Morphine (Detail)" with its
electroacoustic classical bricolage, whirled up with combustion and synth-squeals, vocal cut-ups and sound
poetry. "On A Beach Of Pure Data" opens the collection with the faintly malevolent flutter and whirr of
malfunctioning shards cohering into flickering occasionally accidental rhythms, like a chance encounter of errant
machinery acted out to a backdrop of ominous synthetics. "Colonic People" lets a dyspeptic jazzband slowly,
queasily, be submerged under caustic infusions of noise and reverb, rnadom PA verbiage and digi-squalls. In
contrast, "Whispering Mongo Man" reduces John Lennon to the breath between words in a miasma of pitched-
down phonology and insectoid chatter. "It Contains a Diagnosis" sidles up like a mutant Autech-funk replicant,
pulsing with a kind of metallic beat'n' bleep patter, versions of which present elsewhere. Throughout proceedings
are tinted with a self-conscious tension in a sort of surreal elision of ambient soundscape and found sound
stretched into ill whimsy and knowingly sinister mood music a la Chris Morris's Jam, as male, female, ovine and
bovine babble are lightly drizzled or heavily mashed into 'an abstract narrative exploring the anxiety of
disconnected elements striving to find connection in a world of digital communication.' (sic)
So far we known Autistici as a band with some fine microsound like music for labels such as 12K. Maybe its a bit
early for a retrospective of early work for such a young band, but you never know where expectations come
from for things like this. This is quite different from the music we already heard from them. Here Autistici work
with the human voice which the feed through a synthesizer called ASY, as developed at Bell Laboratories in the
60s and 70s. The music is definitely different than the later work. More based, of course, within synthesizer
sounds, through which the voices (not as in 'vocals') are fed, bouncing off into the world of ambient but also at
times rhythmic like IDM or breakbeat/jazz like ('Clononic People'). Its actually quite a nice release, I think. Hardly
like anything I heard from them before, but a pretty varied bunch of music, in which the voices are hardly to be
recognized. In that respect its great to have these early works now, rather than in twenty-five years. Maybe
Autistici should try and find some synthesis between these old music interest and their recent work. That would
be interesting. (FdW).
Audiobulb head honcho David Newman, always an embracer of the electronic edge, has delivered a particularly
prickly pair in Detached Metal Voice. Newman has raided his past and gathered together all the fruit born of long
dark nights closed off from the world with nothing but an old synth and a few circuit boards to keep him company
and fired them into the universe in this volume of uncomfortable future-retro sound.
Those of you who thought Radiohead's 'Amnesiac' was a little out there need not trouble themselves with these
eleven tracks. Newman has searched near and far in his attempt at creating “an abstract narrative exploring the
anxiety of disconnected elements striving to find connection in a world of digital communication.” The album really
is as bonkers as that sounds with the application of synths, oscillators, cuttings of distorted speech and, as much
as anything else, a brutal use of space and silence.
'Colonic People' provides the only real moment of traditional instrumentation with an acoustic bass and some
shuffled drums, the rest of the record is given over to pure experimentation, like a freeform jazz interpretation
played out inside the brain of a server. In fact, opener 'On a Beach Of Pure Data' comes across like an
eavesdropped conversation between sentient computers as flashes of electricity crackle out of from underneath
the backdrop of doomy synthetic noise. We aren't dealing with Noise as a genre here though as these songs are
far more structured, verging on a classical stance.
Elsewhere, more weird shit continues to happen with persons unknown clearly having rather a good time on
both 'They Move On Me' and 'Beneath' (don't listen to this in the car with your Gran!) while 'Whispering Mango Man'
uses a John Lennon interview minus the John Lennon. Apparently Newman has left only the dead legend's
breathing in the mix of slowed down interviewer speech and robot insect chatter. An avant-garde ruse Yoko
couldn't fail but to admire.
Detached Metal Voice will leave many scratching their heads - even those already aware of his recently
released second album "Complex Tone Test". Those who like to stretch their own taste limits and journey past
the safety net in search of warped new horizons should give Autistici a go, but be warned, easy this ain't.
The first volume of Autistici's Detached Metal Voice – Early Works presents forty-eight minutes of explorative
experimentalism by Audiobulb main man David Newman. The collection is intended to be heard as “an abstract
narrative exploring the anxiety of disconnected elements striving to find connection in a world digital
communication.” On that count, it certainly succeeds: in most of the eleven tracks, fractured voices add dislocated
narrative fragments to ice-cold, machine-driven settings assembled using homemade synthesizers and sinewave
oscillators. Voice synthesis transmogrifies the human voice at times, and seldom is it heard in its natural form.
“On A Beach Of Pure Data” begins the recording with the click and snarl of electronic shards and flickering
patterns, after which “Morphine (Detail)” combines the whirr of engine combustion noise with synthesizer
squeals. Coming after such untraditional settings, “Colonic People” startles with its jazz rhythm section of
acoustic bass and brushed drums, though it too serves as a springboard for a more experimental treatment
when public voice announcements and mini-typhoons of noise threaten to supplant the bass and drum parts.
A rhythm dimension also surfaces when “It Contains a Diagnosis” occasionally flirts with a kind of mutant robo-
funk, but Detached Metal Voice – Early Works is ultimately anything but a rhythm-centered outing .
In “Babyman,” the babble of male and female speakers appears alongside cow-like moos and other mangled
voice treatments, and “Whispering Mongo Man” reduces a fifteen-minute John Lennon interview to nothing more
than the interstitial spaces between the spoken words—not that anyone would know by listening to the
experimental setting itself, which sounds very much like the other tracks on the recording. Slightly more
provocative are “They Move On Me” and “Beneath,” both of which appear to include ecstatic sounds of
lovemaking filtered through electronic devices that only partially camouflage the evidence of the originating
material. Be forewarned: the still-audible orgasmic moans may make you feel more like a voyeur than you'd
prefer. Put simply, the recording captures the sound of Newman in his home laboratory trying out techniques
and exploring ideas—process as important as result. Just don't expect to be emotionally moved by the material;
being abstract by nature, the project's appeal falls more within the cerebral sphere.
Audiobulb Is an exploratory music label designed to support the work of innovative artists.
Sign-up to our newsletter for our latest news & support our work by visiting the shop.