Autechre isn’t the easiest group to review. Rob Brown and Sean Booth have been making dense, pronouncedly structured electronic music for over a decade now. Untilted was recently criticized by the NME for its lack of typical sound structures, which is a bit like saying Destiny’s Child don’t pay enough homage to minimalism.
Tabloids aside, Autechre are often lauded by the leftfield music press and anyone who could safely divide their record collection by number of friends (I raise a hand), and I have to admit I sometimes wonder if they’re a band I like the idea of listening to.
The opening “LCC” starts out like a nightmare from Darren Aronofski’s Pi. Percussive nastiness turns to an unsettling mound of bleeps and lever sounds. Then a melody emerges, and a particularly beautiful one at that, recalling Leftfield at their most understated and dub-imbued, or perhaps Two Lone Swordsmen. Meanwhile something’s still falling down a mine shaft, twinkling in the backdrop. “Ipacial Section” definitely has something of 2001’s Confield about it, except with a more immediate impact. It sounds like a driving simulator; you feel the crunches as beats grind to a halt as though they’re hurting you. There’s a rather lovely electronic coating wrapped around it too. I guess if one slowed down Squarepusher’s “I Wish You Could Talk” the results could be similar.
“Pro Radii” glitches and spins before a haunting funereal tune emerges. The beats sound as if they’re being thrown at you from a bus window. “Augmatic Disport” sounds like an elastic bath, while “Lera” combines shattered hip-hop beats with a hint of Tri Repitae. “Sublimit” is a slice of jilted blips and off-center drum and bass beats.
This is an album which demands your undivided attention. Listen to it while attempting to do something else and a headache awaits. However if you take time to sit down, press play, and listen, you’ll be exposed to a collection of intriguing, unsettling, and occasionally beautiful sounds. This could be great to dance to as well. Autechre occupy their niche, and I’m happy with it. After avoiding use of the terms tone and texture as much as possible, I’m still very glad to have spent an hour or so in Autechre’s company.
Autechre – Confield
Autechre – Tri Repitae
Autechre – Amber