Saturday, November 25, 2006

REVIEW: Autonervous LP

Early incarnation of Autonervous with Jessie Evans and Billy Bates in SF. Captured by Sam Atakra

Starting out as a side project between Jessie Evans and Billy Bates whose 4 track demos yielded a rare 12" EP on New York's Duchess Archive label that includes an early version of the now-classic Vanishing track "Lovesick," Autonervous morphed into a musical sejour between Vanishing's Jessie Evans and Bettina Koster of the legendary Malaria! While it is the band that directly followed on the heels of the Vanishing in their Berlin days, and even grew out of that band's live collaboration with Bettina, it is a noticeable departure from the Vanishing. Gone are the blown out analog synthesizers and the frenzy of Brian Hock's live drumming. Even though the band is composed of two very powerful personalities, Autonervous is much more understated, and the Vanishing's uneasiness is replaced with a more relaxed atmosphere. The "dark music" set will undoubtedly find much to like in this, but the association with Koster and Evans' previous bands might prevent people from appreciating how much light and color Autonervous throw into the picture. Layered, lazy beats stutter in precisely the places where one might expect syncopation will competing with distant-sounding saxophones and the alternating of Bettina's unmistakable tenor with Jessie's resounding wail. Not to be misleading-- this is far from an easy listen; but where the Vanishing might evoke the feeling of being jerked awake by bad dreams, Autonervous is the neurosis of being lulled to sleep to be awaited by nightmares. What's truly great about this release is that it manages both to lure Bettina Koster back into the fray, and, to take Jessie Evans to the next level, after putting an end to a band whose tenure was downright impressive.

Cochon Records