26 02 2009

The Tijuana label Static Discos is know among music fans worldwide for its small but solid selection of experimental electronic acts, which are often better known in Europe than within the boundaries of Latin America. One such project is Antiguo Automata Mexicano—originally a single-man operation founded in the northern city of Monterrey by Ángel Sánchez Borges, which now includes drummer Carlos Icaza on its heavily improvised live sets.


Ángel began to work on AAM in 2000 as a side-project to his electro rock group Slowmotionlove. He wanted to give the ideas on noise and improvisation developed while he was cello student in the mid 1980s a digital outlet, which made it easier for him to develop new soundscapes. “I composed Microhate an album full of crackle soundscapes with a melancholic evening mood”. Angel dedicated the first track to Florian Fricke the front man of the band Popol Vuh, one of the most important projects associated with the Krautrock, the German avant-garde musical movement that emerged at the end of the 1960’s.

Not only was Microhate influenced by German experimental music, it was also released through Background Records in Düsseldorf, Germany home to groups such as Neu! and Kraftwerk. According to Ángel, being associated to minimalist and avant-garde German music can be both good and bad, but has never been a gimmick. “I always dedicate some pieces of my work to musical heroes of mine”, says Ángel , “for example, to Walter Schmidt, in my opinion one of greatest electronic and experimental musicians ever to have come from México.”

A project such as AAM is rare for Monterrey, an industrial culturally and politically conservative city best known in Mexican music circles for norteña music and the “avanzada regia”—a movement that included hip-hop, rock, and electronic bands once considered commercially viable by MTV and the record industry. AAM has had little relation to this phenomenon. In fact, the music of Antiguo Automata Mexicano with its abstract and challenging disposition stands in rather sharp contrast to most music from Monterrey. I ask Angel about his relation to his native city and whether he has found support for his music? “I do believe that my music could only emerge from Monterrey”, says Ángel, “I don’t know why, but perhaps just being bored in the middle of this infernally hot place!”

AAM has certainly achieved an important level of attention among adventurous musicfans. With his latest project—Kraut Slut—in which Ángel has further developed the intensity and intricateness of his sound, AAM has generated considerable attention from publications such as Fader, Urb, Pitchfork and Texture. Unfortunately, such level of international attention remains elusive for the majority of Mexican experimental projects. When I asked Ángel how he has been able to put AAM on the global musical spectrum, he replied, “I think AAM has gained such recognition because of all the work I’ve been doing in Mexico since the 1980s. In Monterrey and Mexico City people started paying attention to my music because the “German album” (Microhate) and a review by the electronic music publication De:Bug”.

Read the complete article from Oscar León Bernal in B2 MAGAZINE BERLIN #9, BLACK BOX BERLIN