Dan the Automator: The Golden Years 1996-2001


Okay, so this isn’t really one album…it’s more like five, but as I was browsing my shelves last night it struck me that Dan the Automator had some serious shit going down at the end of the last century.  Not just as an artist, but as a producer as well.

Seriously.  I mean take a look at the five albums above and realized that he made all of them in a span of five years.  Who does that?!?

Dan the Automator, that’s who.

When Kool Keith’s Dr Octagon dropped in ’96, it turned more than a few heads.  After the break up of the Ultramagnetic MC’s Kool Keith embarked on a mission to come up with a new persona for every album (he still does today) but none were as far ahead of their time as Dr Octagon.  Filled with baroque tunes and electro beats that complimented his diverse rhyme style, the album added yet another road to the travels of hip hop.

For Automator’s next trick, he teamed up with Prince Paul (of De La Soul fame) and then grabbed a truckload of friends to create the Handsome Boy Modeling School in 1999.  Based loosely around an old episode of Chris Elliot’s cult show “Get a Life.”  This album is literally brimming with talent like Del, Cibo Matto, DJ Shadow, Moloko, Sean Lennon and Grand Puba.  The tunes range in genre’s from blues, hip hop and indie rock.  A definite tour de force.  (note: be sure to check out the sequel: White People, as well)

What do do when 2000 hits, you team up with none other than Del the Funky Homosapien, rework him as a futuristic rhyme annihilator and call it Detron 3030.  Lots of sci -fi beats (an Automator trademark) and themes abound in this one.   Sure this album didn’t reach many who didn’t already know about Del. But those that it did reach, were in for a treat.

The real party trick can in 2001, though when Dan released two genre bending albums!  Two!  First out the gate…Gorillaz.  The worlds first bad that never existed, created by Blur man Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewitt (Tank Girl yo!).  With new shit like ‘Clint Eastwood” and ‘Tomorrow Comes Today,’ virtual frontman Albarn and Automator hosted a slew of other artists(much like Handsome Boy’s formula) to create an excitingly fresh aural landscape that grabbed the attention of pretty much everybody.

But then came Lovage.

Grabbing Mike Patton (Mr Bungle) Jennifer Charles(Elysian Fields) and Kid Koala, Automator mashed it all together to create a new sound of futuristic lounge called “Music to make Love to Your Old Lady By.”  A lot of folks slept on this one, although I can’t imagine why.  Listening to this album is like taking a bath in cognac while smoking 20 cigars.

Automator even had time between all this to release “Bombay the Hard Way: Guns, Cars, and Sitars” with DJ Shadow.  A sublime compilation of Bollywood theme music.

So, anyways…my hands hurt from typing now.  But if you like music without boundaries or genres…check out any of these beauties and expand your mind.  You’ll be glad you did.


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