The Automatics Group
Summer Mix (Auto 2)
CD (E130)

Digital version available from Boomkat

The information contained in an audio CD can be considered
a waveform describing the movement of your loudspeakers’
cones over time. Using a mathematical process known as a
discrete Fourier transform the same information can be dealt
with as a collection of sine waves of different frequencies and
phases. In this album the phase data is reset, discarding half
the information in the music. What does the half removed
represent? It is difficult to say exactly, but it is related to time
and structural relationships. In most cases you would expect
each event in the original audio to be smeared over the
duration of the transformed track. However, when the process
is applied to music that contains highly repetitive structures,
certain aspects audibly survive the transformation process.

1. Swedish House Mafia/PJ feat Velvet/Roll Deep/
1. Paul Van Dyk/Deepest Blue/Supermode
2. Deadmau5/Mason vs Princess Superstar/Riva Starr/
2. Sash!/Motorcycle/4 Strings/PPK/D.H.T./Tiesto
3. Sonique/Grace/Gouryella
4. Roger Sanchez/Eric Prydz

* Layer of foreground noise due to smearing of all
* frequencies in track over entire duration
* Frequencies become phase-aligned halfway
* through causing central peak
* Central peak surrounded by series of symmetrical
* peaks and dips fading towards beginning and end
* Entirely self-contained
* Aspects of melodies and rhythms retained but
* restructured, with harmonic and rhythmic elements
* fusing beneath noise.

Produced and phase-reset by Theo Burt for
The Automatics Group. Tested by Peter Worth
and Solomon Burt.

The Automatics Group

See also
Theo Burt (E80)

First edition of 200 copies
Second edition of 100 copies (2013)
Out of print

“A remix process so elegant it would thrill
the most rigorous mathematician”
The Wire

Anthem Classics from Clubland

Roll Deep, In At The Deep End

Cream, Future Dance


The Automatics Group’s dance-pop deconstruction, Summer
Mix is one of the uncanniest computer music releases of this
decade — first issued as a limited CD edition by Entr’acte in
2011. In the time since then it’s quietly become a bit of an
iconic reflection for a post-rave generation, presenting a non-
trivial nostalgia trip that somehow sounds like a digitally
diffused, skeletal take on Gas, Basic Channel or Ross 154.
It was created by applying a mathematical process known
as a discrete Fourier transform upon a number of late ’90s
and ’00s dance anthems, effectively sieving their contents
for all its time data and discarding this half of the info,
leaving behind the frequencies and noise from the original
recordings. What remains is a haunting spectral impression:
snare hits smeared as a thin layer of noise over the entire
recording, single synth notes become pulsating chords span-
ning the whole track; rending anthemic metaphysics as a
sublime murmuration of intangible memories and perhaps
even simulating the effect of an MDMA-induced cultural
amnesia, to our mashed minds at least.


The Automatics Group’s recent Summer Mix is an excellent
piece of experimental electronic music. Sonically, it brings to
mind a sort of pan-spectral take on microhouse — a broad
band of static frequencies propelled by tiny, glitching rhythmic
sounds, almost like the skipping in early Oval.
  It’s impressive, then, to discover that its sounds were gene-
rated by an automatic process. Producer Theo Burt begins
with populist floor-fillers by artists like Swedish House Mafia,
uses [a] Fourier transform[ation] to extract the audio
frequencies present in the song, removes the information
about the frequencies’ phases, and converts the data back
into sound.
  The effect of this music is fascinating. Instead of the clear
melodies of the source tracks, the Automatics Group
renditions have a smeared, intangible quality. They hint at
melodies which are impossible to resolve amidst the spread-
out frequencies of the transformed sounds. It is tantalising
music. The tracks on Summer Mix are only labelled with
reference to the source artists, but I’m sure I can hear the
sounds of Eric Prydz’ Call On Me somewhere within the
digital scree.

Ghost Outfit

The new album from The Automatics Group is pretty upfront
about its sample sources — each track is named according to
the mainstream pop and house acts it borrows from (Swedish
House Mafia, Deadmau5...). But anyone expecting a mash-
up epic along the lines of Kid 606’s The Action Packed Mental-
list Brings You the Fucking Jams is going to be severely dis-
appointed. Rather than cheekily re-contextualising his source
material The Automatics Group’s Theo Burt diffuses it into a
Fourier-transformed mist of hiss and hum. The only recognis-
able element left over from contemporary dance-pop is the
steady four-on-the-floor beat. But even this is reduced to a
series of ornately minute clicks and pulses, which have more
in common with late 90s glitch-techno. Indeed, the most
obvious points of reference here are GAS and Basic Channel.
That doesn’t quite cover it, though. As the album title may
suggest, this music avoids the deep-in-the-woods dankness
of GAS or the skunky fug of Basic Channel, delivering a ravish-
ing blue-skied clarity. This clarity is all the more remarkable
given the claustrophobic, over-compressed sound of the
music Summer Mix samples. The whole album has a sense
of presence unusual for a 2010s digital production and the
dynamic range is startlingly wide by any standards.
  All of which makes it easy to speculate about what The
Automatics Group might be trying to say with this project.
Perhaps this is an attempt to suggest a more open, un-
ashamedly cerebral alternative to contemporary pop’s bullish
insistence that you must party hard. But it would be frankly
wrong to impose this here blog’s ideological agenda on such
a simply, stunningly gorgeous record.

Bubblegum Cage III

The idea of the remix can be a terrible conceit. A meeting of
minds that should yield more than the sum of its parts, more
often a remix is absent-minded tinkering by distracted laptop
musicians, where they suck out their favoured sounds and
make little attempt to engage with the original — an exercise
in point-missing exacerbated by the non-stop hype machine
of online collaborations and cross-promotions. Theo Burt, of
the Music Research Centre, part of York University (whose
history in electronic music runs from Trevor Wishart through
to Mark Fell), and here working under the name The Auto-
matics Group, takes a different, and seemingly more rigorous,
tack. Applying a discrete Fourier transform to Euro-chart
monster choons by the likes of Eric Prydz, Paul Van Dyk and
Deadma5, he ignores the structure (specifically, the ‘phase/
timing data’) to work with just the common frequencies of
the tracks themselves. In other words, this is what you might
call a spectral remix. When the frequencies of these havin’
it bangers are distributed over the length of the whole track,
full-spectrum overload becomes delicately mottled hues.
Just a subtle 4/4 pulse of the original shines through; Tiësto
becomes Deepchord; Swedish House Mafia is turned to GAS.
In truth, it’s hard to sense the differences between the tracks,
with just the tiniest hints of the original remaining, but the
way aggressive consumerist melody is condensed down into
shards of what sounds like granular synthesis is head-spinning.
Previous Theo Burt projects have been equally neat examples
of bringing conceptual rigour to bear on simple pleasures. His
2009 CD-ROM Colour Projections was an elegant and exacting
meeting of video and audio — basic geometric shapes revolv-
ing and transforming in space, the kind of thing you get on
one of those soothing-visuals-for-baby DVDs, where their
angles and lengths are directly tied to oscillator frequencies,
rendering Acidic squeals and sub-bass dives. This album
comes packaged in Entr’acte’s typically fetishistic shrink-
wrapped military-grade plastics, but on the label website
is an alternative visual component to this Fourier-form
remixing. Here, the covers of chart compilations such as
Anthem Classics From Clubland and Cream Future Dance
put through the same process visually, statistically
distributing their hues across over the square surface of
a CD (funnily enough, the results are again rather similar
to GAS). Of course, statisticians can be damn liars, and
the results of any statistical analysis depend on who’s
using them and how. Removing the structure of a piece
of music to try and tap into some notion of ‘pure sounds’
carries its own problematic assumptions. But nonetheless,
Summer Mix is a remix process so elegant it would thrill
the most rigorous mathematician.

Derek Walmsley in The Wire