Autechre: elseq

May 28th, 2016

The last couple of years have been busy ones for Autechre.  Exai was an album of staggering scope, made even more audacious by the fact that it was uniformly good.  Not many musical acts in any genre can still turn out solid material with such consistency three decades into their career.

The group has always been known for its live shows, but they've never seemed keen on releasing recordings of them.  Then, without notice or fanfare, they released nine different live sets on the same day.

The marketing and distribution were interesting.  No physical copies are available.  The music can …

Review: L-event by Autechre

October 15th, 2013

It's standard practice for Autechre to follow up an album with an EP. Sometimes, they're standalone works. In other cases, they're reinterpretations of the prior album's material, such as Envane. Part of the challenge is finding the parallels.

L-event ("eleventh?") appears to be a bit of both. "tac Lacora" sounds like a remix of "1 1 is," if that track were to start out as warped electro before glitching into disarray then collapsing into wobbly-kneed dub. Structurally, it reminds me of the long versions of "Perlence."

"M39 Diffain" might take some source material from "cloudline," but it feels more like Confield's magnificent "Parhelic Triangle." The odd …

Review: Exai by Autechre

February 12th, 2013

Autechre has marked their 20th anniversary with their eleventh record. Exai="XI," get it? In terms of imaginative titles, that's right up there with Van Halen II or Chicago LXIV. However, this record lacks appearances by Peter Cetera or Sammy Hagar. That may or may not be an important distinction, depending on your tastes.

It's a long one, clocking in right at two hours. At that length, some inconsistency might be expected, but this is cohesive in a way none of their records has been since Confield. If I had to compare it with anything, I'd say it's a less haunted and more assertive cousin to Oversteps.

It's always tempting to seek a concept in their records. Confield was about abstraction in texture, Untilted pushed rhythmic boundaries, and Oversteps focused on melodic complexity. If there's such a theme here, it's in the sound design itself. The palette is less alien and more visceral, and it's as if they've laid off many of the algorithmic tweaks. I can almost imagine physical knobs being manipulated during the recording.

Autechre: Move of Ten

June 18th, 2010

Only three months, and we've got the EP to accompany Oversteps.  Thank goodness Bleep is doing American distribution.  With the dollar the way it is, this would have been about $623.95 if I'd ordered it from England.

No record is worth that much unless it has Tiny Tim.  We've got a recession going here, and we have to hitch a ride with the Russians just to get into orbit these days.  I mean, really.  One has to have priorities.

But, is it worth ten bucks?  Definitely.

Autechre: Oversteps

March 2nd, 2010

As usual, I never know what to expect from a new Autechre record.  The fact that the Designers Republic was back on board for artwork should have been something of a clue.

This is certainly the most consistent and approachable that they've been in years.  The record is restrained and focused, and there's a real emphasis on melody.  They've jettisoned the hyper-abstraction and claustrophobic mixing of Untilted, and the disjointed chaos of Quaristice has been reined in.  What's left is an album that doesn't convey the need to prove anything.

It's all the more satisfying for that.

This is a patient record with a unified character.  There's a sense of space and breathing room that's quite welcome.  The atmosphere is reminiscent of Envane's quieter moments and several tracks lack percussion entirely.

Before everyone starts screaming, "OMG ambient record!  They remade Amber FTW," bear in mind that this is a more mature animal.  It's learned a few things since then, and its teeth are a bit sharper than they were fifteen years ago.

June 3rd, 2008


The aptly-named is now up in its entirety on Bleep.  It's another 13 versions of tracks from Quaristice, comprising 149 minutes of material.

If you're keeping count, that's 4:50:26 of material they've released this year.

Quaristice: a Second Perspective

March 14th, 2008

I received my hardcopy of this today. I splurged and ordered the limited-edition, which has a second disc entitled, Quaristice (Versions).

I expected the second disc to be a set of one-off remixes, but it turned out to be quite different. To put it bluntly, this is the record Quaristice should have been.

My primary complaint with the album was that the individual pieces were too short, and that it lacked a sense of overaching structure. That's not the case here.

Eleven tracks from the album proper are represented, reworked and expanded. In almost every case, they benefit tremendously. While Quaristice felt like it had quite a bit of filler, this disc seems both more disciplined and better developed.

One step sideways: review of Quaristice

February 4th, 2008

The new Autechre record has been released a month ahead of time for download. This is a strange tactic for Warp. After all, Autechre doesn't need the buzz. They've got a built-in fanbase who will likely buy the record no matter what.

Precedent shows that Booth and Brown are somewhat averse to having their material leaked beforehand, and this may be a way of cutting that off before it starts. Before Draft 7.30 was released, someone was distributing "bootleg" advance copies which were, in fact, completely fake.

If it's not early promotion, and it's not a means to circumvent leaks, why release the record early? It could be that Warp (or the artists) lack confidence in it.

It's a harsh judgment, but Autechre have not only released some truly great music, they've rewritten a great many of the rules along the way. It's rare for an artist to become an influence within their own career, and rarer still for them to avoid treading the same ground twice. They've done both, so it's only natural to look forward to each new release with certain expectations.

Autechre: Quaristice

January 29th, 2008

Autechre - Quaristice

The new album is due out 03/03. The release date was announced a couple of weeks back, but I’ve not heard much else. As of today, Bleep has the album available for download in FLAC and MP3 formats.

"But ours go to 11…"

September 9th, 2006

I've gotten quite a bit of mail asking me why I haven't reviewed Untilted yet. To put it as plainly as possible, I don't think I will.

You see, before reviewing something, I'll listen to it in its entirety at least twice–closely, and to the exclusion of all else. That's really the only reliable (and honest) way to get a true feel for a record.

Unfortunately, I've been unable to do that with the latest Autechre because it's just plain unlistenable.

I've bested every intellectual challenge they've thrown at me, and I've found beauty in their worst moments, but this is …

And now for something completely different…

March 12th, 2006

There's not much going on with boys as of late. Untilted's been out for a few months now, garnering the usual dichotomy of ecstatic/confused reviews.

NME called it, "so listener-unfriendly that it's almost amusing," and Contact offers this nugget of incisive criticism:

[Untilted] would be appreciated in a half-empty, smoky room by the sort of bearded, socially deficient males who would nod their heads enthusiastically at the sound of a broken tractor (…) If you like your music challenging, rhythmically taxing, melodically lacking and generally unnerving, then check out Autechre's latest.

Yep. Well, I'm enjoying it.

That …

Autechre Interview at Pitchfork

March 3rd, 2006

Just came across a post-Untilted interview on Pitchfork. Sean opens up a bit more than usual.

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