Two albums in 12 years is hardly the standard in the music business, but Autolux has defied description from the outset.
The trio assembled in 1998, a year after Ednaswap drummer Carla Azar and Failure bassist Greg Edwards had met on a package tour, became friends and got together after their bands dissolved. Azar brought ex-Maids of Gravity guitarist Eugene Goreshter into the fold, completing the threesome, but not before making an interesting adjustment — Edwards switched to guitar and Goreshter took the bass role, positions that neither had occupied to any significant degree.
From this slightly off-balance beginning, anchored by Azar’s viscerally powerful but incredibly delicate drumming, Autolux began fashioning its sound, a blend of Shoegaze drone, ambient subtlety and left-of-center Pop, a fascinating triangulation of My Bloody Valentine, Radiohead and Brian Eno. The band’s L.A. shows attracted a strong following and in 2002 they signed to T Bone Burnett’s DMZ/Sony label after recording Demonstrations, its popular five-song demo. As the band readied itself for recording, Azar fell off a stage and shattered her elbow, requiring revolutionary surgery and a year of downtime. When she was finally rehabbed, Autolux hit Burnett’s studio with a vengeance and came out with Future Perfect, the trio’s exquisitely textural and widely acclaimed 2004 debut album.
In the subsequent six years, Autolux toured extensively behind its debut and spent an inordinate amount of time extricating themselves from the Columbia contract. The trio continued to play shows, honing and perfecting new material. The band toured Russia with PJ Harvey, collaborated with painter Kill Pixie on an art/sound installation in L.A., played the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival, opened for Thom Yorke’s side project, Atoms for Peace, and finally recorded its sophomore album, Transit Transit. The album came out on TBD Records, a spin-off of Dave Matthews’ ATO Records and home to releases by Underworld and White Rabbits, not to mention Radiohead’s In Rainbows (after the band’s pay-what-you-want experiment).
With Transit Transit, all of the old comparisons apply to an even greater extent, with Radiohead’s intricacy coming to the forefront and a bubbling undercurrent reminiscent of Chris Whitley’s skewed electric Folk freakouts. Transit Transit is every bit as unexpected as Future Perfect, and Autolux remains a potent and exhilarating live force.
Autolux plays The Southgate House Saturday. Go here for venue details and ticket information.