Britain’s Clatterbox, born David Kempston, has an extensive discography dating back to 1995, which ranges from breaky experiments to more straightforward electro tracks. There’s a dual risk with older producers who have already had a heyday: they often either make mediocre attempts to play catch-up with a younger generation, or continue down their well-worn path, oblivious that their sounds are painfully dated. Fortunately, Semi-Automatic, Clatterbox’s second effort for the venerable TRUST label, is neither.
Kempston avoids those potential pitfalls by going timeless. The title track’s gritty, high-drama electro would sound fresh mixed with tracks from any era, and checks some quintessential boxes: a robotic female voice, soothing pads, and a bass line that just gets nastier and crunchier as it goes on. Far from sleepy, “Hibernation” uses similar gear for a more sinister, punishing bounce. It’s significantly less hooky but equally across-the-board compatible. Rounding out the package are two remixes of the title track, with Jimmy Edgar reprising his Creepy Autograph guise, and Dan Lodig recording as Lok44. Edgar’s mix is drastically different from the original, spacing out crisp organ stabs amid a slinked-out, skipping groove, which becomes pretty full on in the latter minutes. Lodig, meanwhile, goes rigidly funky, chopping up the vocal and replacing Kempston’s pads with nosediving rave organ. To my ears, it’s easy to imagine members of the Swamp81 family dropping this in a mix, as it’s blessed with a fair bit of rowdy swagger. Both are welcome complements to an expertly produced pair of tracks.