Semiautomatic – Wolfcentric


Wolfcentric is Semiautomatic’s back-to-basics fourth album. Many of the tracks have a dirty garage feel to them despite their electronic beats. The band is moving away from the electro-pop of their past work instead to focus on guitar, bass, and toy electronics for a homegrown sound recorded in a basement in Brooklyn. Bassist Rop Vazquez, formerly of Peechees and Rice, created some of the sounds on the record by modifying the circuit boards of noise-making toys and small keyboards.
Most of the songs on Wolfcentric deal with love and politics, both global and personal, as well drugs, sex, and apocalyptic boredom. The title track is about a dog that wishes to escape human socialization, and “Marion Barry” is a plea to the former crackhead mayor of Washington, DC to save the word from war.
Two tracks feature Ari Up of the Slits, the legendary all-female reggae-influenced punk band. These songs break new ground in that they are punk dancehall (so far, I can’t think of anybody else in that genre). In “Execution,” Ari sings a conscious track about revolution through music, and “Stushpuss” is an explicit “dis” track where Ari declares that bourgie ladies aren’t better than other women. Another standout is the instrumental “Emergency Tunnel System” in which an electronic bassline bubbles under garage-y guitars and typifies their instrumental direction on this album.
Wolfcentric sounds like it was recorded on a minuscule budget or handed into the label on a cheap cassette, which on paper looks like that would be a step back for Semiautomatic, but sonically its actually a great leap forward because the grit seems to inject a more human element into this music which was made mostly by machines.