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Automatic Tendencies

by Firestations

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New Device 03:44
Small Island 03:54


Firestations return with the first instalment of a new multi-EP project titled Automatic Tendencies and their first new music on Lost Map since the 2018 album The Year Dot. Set for release on November 6, 2020, Automatic Tendencies is the first of three EPs set to be released digitally and on limited-edition CD-R over a six-month period, embracing a mixtape aesthetic with each release including alternative “sunken” versions by the band as well as covers and remixes of new Firestations material by other artists. Band member and visual artist Laura Copsey has curated collections of special artworks that expand on the ideas within each release.

Over the last two years, Firestations have refined their brand of conceptual alt-pop, and new songs are concerned with identity, belonging, progress and escapism. ‘Small Island’ is about finding ways to embrace an inclusive islander mentality when the dominant narrative seems to be stuck in slow motion or on repeat – the languorous but insistent groove providing the perfect “road-to-nowhere-fast” backdrop. It’s accompanied by a video from award-winning animator Jack Alexandroff, featuring striking time-lapse footage of clay statues melting, islands dissolving into seas of milk and watercress growing from clenched fists.

The first track on the Automatic Tendencies EP ‘New Device’ begins with a hooky synth line and moves along quickly, but hints also at a kind of fatigue and disillusionment with the progress on offer. With ‘Bedford Levels’ and ‘Greenmount’, songwriter Mike Cranny looks closer to home and examines ambivalent feelings towards his own sense of belonging and identity, and the pitfalls of outsiderness coupled with directionless escapism. Musically, the former has echoes of pastoral/ambient end kosmische, all gently nagging synth and light drum machine pulse, while the latter highlights the band’s deftness, a just-too-slow-to-disco chug with the subtlest interjections of Nile Rodgers-esque guitar. Last track ‘Just For A While’ offers a meditation on travelling, and the quiet joys of moving on towards infinite possibilities. It’s a reflective journey, punctuated by keyboard ripples and bent-note guitar twang. With this first offering in the Automatic Tendencies EP project, the band show a clear intent for their music – combining “big ideas” and pop songs in a new and unique way; this is the challenge that keeps them evolving.

About the art collections accompanying the Automatic Tendencies EPs, Laura Copsey writes the following:

“The music Firestations make together and the ideas we explore, have increasingly influenced the work I create. Sometimes it’s hard to see where the music starts and the art stops, and this cross-pollination comes from the time we spend together as a band – conversations, in-jokes and influences that we agree or disagree about. The way we work has become increasingly process-led, which has always been how I work as an artist. This way of working together grew out of our previous release Dream Home, which was the first time my visual work was so connected with the music.

“The songs on Automatic Tendencies reflect on ideas of cultural identity and belonging. A tendency for repetition, a desire to escape, but also a strong connection to place and the shared experience of being alive at the same time on this small island. The contents of the art collection work alongside the music to create a sense of belonging, yet there is an ever-present awareness of growing insularity. The waters surrounding the British Isles are increasingly politicised – viewed as a border, despite being fluid and acting as a connection.

“It was these metaphors that guided the illustrations in the risographed No Parking zine – which contains human / machine translation poetry generated from the lyrics to ‘Small Island’ by forcing a machine to glitch via many global languages. The lines would not exist were it not for the differences between us and the zine aims to celebrate this fact. Designer Philip Crewe (espergaerde.co.uk) has crafted a set of reusable brass fish and chip forks to represent the iconic staple of British culinary culture which can be used whilst staring out to sea eating chips in quiet contemplation. These items speak to a wonky ‘no parking’ sticker (‘take back control?’) and the Automatic Tendencies print which features legs, knee deep, drawn into a risographed version of a 16mm film still that had been buried in the English countryside for three months.”


released November 6, 2020


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Lost Map Records Isle Of Eigg, UK

DIY label, run by Pictish Trail, from his caravan on the Isle of Eigg, Scotland.

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