The first line-up of Klan formed in Warsaw in the latter half of the 1960s and featured singer-guitarist Marek Ałaszewski, bassist Roman Pawelski, percussionist Andrzej Poniatowski and keyboard player Maciej Głuszkiewicz. They quickly gained attention for their improvised progressive music and often idiosyncratic songwriting. Their original recorded catalogue is fairly small, consisting of one full-length LP, Mrowisko [Anthill], issued on Muza in 1971, and a self-titled 7″ EP, Klan (1970), which features Automaty, the song presented here. The band’s line-up changed during 1971, to include Krzysztof Dłutowski and Wojciech Morawski in place of Głuszkiewicz and Poniatowski, but this brief second incarnation soon disbanded, and remained out of circulation until a new Ałaszewski-led Klan (in truth, a quite different band that happens to be led by the same singer-guitarist) emerged in 1992 with a second full length CD, Po co mi ten raj [Why Do I Need Paradise]. The Klan material released in the late 60s and early 70s is notable for a more committed psychedelic rock influence than was commonplace among other bands at the same time, and for a vein of explicit, if somewhat generalised, social comment – of which the impassioned refusal to become a cog in the machine expressed in Automaty is a prime example. The song itself can be heard here and the Polish lyric can be read here.
Klan: Automaty (Automation)
(after Marek Ałaszewski, 1970)
The machines are counting, counting, counting,
counting, counting, all the time,
automatically cogs are counting, counting,
mechanically counting human programs through.
Programs run together our captive laughter,
counting, counting, on and on – from zero to oblivion –
while automata hope their calculations fail,
automatically pray this automation stops.
This mechanisation might yet destroy us
will count us, count us as we reproduce.
We’ll pretend we don’t know, counting, counting,
counting down to the sleep of efficiency.
We’ll pretend we don’t see, counting, counting,
leave the machines to work and count alone.
We’ll find out that one day, one day, one day,
we’ve been counted through as cogs ourselves –
counted rows of numbers in machines that count us,
that measure us, weigh us, still segregate us…
Will the young keep up all this counting, too?
Keep these numbers scrolling in automated lines?
Or will they become new numbers, counting, counting,
beyond the cogs of these vast machines?
Become unknown numbers, brand new symbols,
transform equations with the sign of X?