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Autechre
Albums

  • Incunabula,
  • Amber,
  • Tri Repetae,
  • Chiastic Slide,
  • LP5,
  • Confield,
  • Draft 7:30,
  • Untitled,
  • Quaristice,








  • Adrian's Album Reviews |

    Autechre

    Related Artists - Orbital, Aphex Twin, Luke Vibert
    Related Genres - Electronica

    Incunabula 7 ( 1993 )
    Kalpol Introl / Bike / Autriche / Bronchus 2 / Basscadet / Eggshell / Doctrine / Maetl / Windwind / Lowride / 444

    Rob Brown and Sean Booth are Autechre, just one of many UK ambient/techno/electronica acts that emerged in the early nineties, a time that now can be seen as some sort of golden age for the genre. Aphex Twin, Orbital, The Orb, Nightmares On Wax and other acts all released debut works between the years 1991 through to 1993, and all these acts remain at the forefront of the genre today. The likes of Ķ-Ziq, Boards Of Canada and others have emerged in the meanwhile, but writing this review late 2002, there is currently a feeling of stagnation within the intelligent techno/electro ambient music scene. Auechre signed to Warp Records, already home of Aphex Twin, and there are similarities between this and 'Selected Ambient Works 85-92' by Aphex Twin. There isn't the same feeling of a distinctive musical approach, you know immediately when you are hearing an Aphex Twin record, even if it turns out in the end to be somebody else! This is all a little unfair on Autechre of course, who never did grab the headlines in the alternative ( rock ) music press in quite the same way Aphex Twin did. So, what do we have here? Well, pleasing, intelligent, well put together techno and ambient music. Sometimes both forms in the same piece, but not always. The opening 'Kalpol Introl' opens with a lovely sequence of relaxed ambient melody over which odd old analogue sound effects provide punctuation, or percussion if you prefer. Soft beats enter, the track is very atmospheric indeed, and a fine opener. 'Bike' is eight minutes of techno beats with softer sounds over the top, almost an inversion of the format used for the opening track. 'Autriche' is a highlight here, one of the more melodic and distinctive pieces, 'Bronchus 2' is less enjoyable, treading more familiar techno patterns and not doing anything terribly interesting or unusual.

    'Eggshell' opens with nice 'bouncy' electronic noises, and the melody and keyboard sounds are strong. 'Doctrine' is more techno than ambient, thumpingly enjoyable beats, though never 'regular' beats. Everything is slightly odd. A variety of other sounds and melodies play host to these beats, and eight or so minutes later the song finishes. You'll make it there. 'Windwind' is eleven minutes long, and you might not make it to the end without getting bored, the closing two pieces provide a further fifteen, sixteen minutes of music in total to add to this albums already hour long length. Most of this album is enjoyable, but lacking in a little sparkle or enough distinctive sounds. It may have been a better prospect trimmed by two or three songs, but debut albums rarely are ever perfect, are they?

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    Readers Comments

    Vinny playerpiano@hotmail.com
    I know people write in all the time and complain that their favorite artists didn't get a 10, but this is ridiculous. Incunabula is nothing short of breathtaking. Everyone of my friends who I've played it for thinks its an amazing record, regardless of the genre they connect with the most. I don't like to compare different artists/styles, but for example I saw your reviews for Coldplay, and the lowest score you gave one of their records was a 7.5? Their music is regurgitated-pop-fluff-bullshit that deserves no higher than a 4 or 5 at most. You've got to be able to spot a diamond when you see one, and this one should've blinded you the minute Kapol Intro graced your speakers.


    top of page Amber 8 ( 1994 )
    Foil / Montreal / Silverside / Slip / Glitch / Piezo / Nine / Further / Yulquen / Nil / Teartear

    There is some pretty good spooky atmospherics on this second Autechre collection. 'Foil' opens with what sounds like a tube being waved around in outer-space, if you can imagine such a thing. Autechre beats kick in, and suddenly they do sound like Autechre beats, and not derivative of anything else. Clicking noises, echo, very ambient, switching back to a main melodic thread. There is definitely something about this. 'Montreal' is a little more 'bouncy', if 'bouncy' is a correct word to use when describing mostly ambient music and 'Silverside' is one of the spooky moments here, would scare your arse off if employed within a serious and intelligent Horror film, for example. This type of techno/ambient music is amongst the most difficult music to review of all the styles i've covered on my site. A regular rock song, with bass, guitars, words - is a hell of a lot easier to describe than a shifting melodic thread created by computers and reminding you of absolutely nothing concrete as a means of comparison. 'Silverside' is a startling piece of work. When the beats kick in, they sound like nothing on earth, they've been treated, voices appear far off and distant. The main 'scary' sequence of sound, the main melodic thread continues within this circle of sound. You feel enclosed, and I don't know how to put it better than that. 'Slip' is full of light-hearted noises almost akin to Kraftwerk 'Pocket Calculator' - that kind of feel. A nice happy track full of mellow washes of sound amid the happy sounding beeps. 'Glitch' is more experimental than anything else appearing on the first half of this album. The introduction to 'Glitch' is seemingly random noise and effect. Beats do kick in later in the track, but 'Glitch' never fails to sound extremely strange, albeit in an enjoyable way. 'Piezo' is eight minutes of more urgent and 'anxious' sounding tones and really messes with your head.

    The seventh song here is called 'Nine', the eighth song is called 'Further' and at this point the album seems to fade a little, and it's actually not down to these two tracks being especially worse than the songs they follow, rather just they are more of the same and lack surprising aspects. 'Yulquen' is very quiet, repeating melodies, very simple melodies around which nothing else happens to distract you or hold your attention bar a few mixing effects. 'Nil' initially sounds like a submarine, and yeah, that's your problem when reviewing Autechre! It's not a groovy and inventive guitar riff with hints of Hendrix, it's just a sequence of electronic sounds put together into a near eight minute long track that initally sounds like a submarine has appeared before your ears. So to speak! Good stuff, this though. 'Amber' as a whole piece of work comes across as more enjoyable and cohesive than their debut 'Incunabula' by some margin. The closing 'Teartear' initially puts Jean Michel Jarre into your brain and images of lasers crossing a city sky at night. This is very picturesque music, although I may well have done a lousy job of describing it. There are sounds and atmospherics and imagery here that reminds you of other things, but you always know you are listening to Autechre, and you always know you want to listen to more.

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    top of page Tri Repetae ( 1995 )
    Dael / Clipper / Leterel / Rotar / Stud / Eutow / C-Pach / Gnit / Overand / Rsdio

    Autechre settle down and make an album that is quintessential Autechre of a kind. Nothing really occurs on this album that they hadn't done before - there are no new moods or shocking sounds, the shocking sounds become Autechre sounds, the innovation becomes Autechre and is easy to dismiss, if unfair to dismiss in that fashion. 'Dael' moves around hypnotically, repeating the same melodic phrases for six minutes but remains extremely easy to listen to. 'Clipper' opens with a burst of electronic noise, sharp yet deep bass kicks in, ambient sounds - loads of things going on, actually. A very interesting track that gives off emotionless blasts of icy landscapes in this listeners mind, a vast tract of ice and snow covered land late in the evening with the sun setting beautifully in the distance. A-hem! 'Leterel' is harsh noises on the surface with ambient beauty underneath, running for seven minutes. It works, the ambient melodies very beautiful, almost scary - like the aftermath of some great personal disaster involving spiritual creatures from hell. Everything has settled down, but you remain shocked by what's happened. The undercurrent of evil permeates this, but it's actually no longer here, no longer around. 'Leterel' is a fascinating combination of sound and feel. They do this kind of thing very well all through 'Tri Repetae'. The music places images in your mind. 'Rotar' is more standard techno based fare, another seven/eight minute track, and nothing extraordinary if still mining the same quality well Autechre have established for themselves. It does feature some fucked up clicking noises that seemingly aren't part of the song, or the room you listening to the song in, but part of the very fabric of sound itself. Yeah, that's right!

    The interestingly titled 'Stud' is misnamed, very quiet all the way through and actually rather dull melodically. 'Eutow' has speedy techno beats and standard techno sounds and doesn't really work, especially arriving straight after the below par 'Stud'. 'C-Pach' is four minutes long, a snappy length of song by Autechre standards! Lots of weird sounds, light-hearted and happy sounds. 'Gnit' contains stretches of ambient beauty amid abstract blasts of electronic noise and sound, 'Overand' is a mellow stretch of soothing percussive sounds, very gentle and lovely to listen to, hypnotic again, like all good Autechre music seems to be. 'Rsdio' works by repeating the same sequence of beats that sound like someone playing a brand-new wind instrument, home crafted, just invented. Well, how DO I explain this? It's damn good stuff, though. 'Tri Repetae' as a whole is defined for me by the word 'solid'. It's imaginative in places, very well done, but doesn't break any real new ground for the group although does work to further establish themselves.

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    top of page Chiastic Slide( 1997 )
    Cipater / Rettic AC / Tewe / Cichli / Hub / Calbruc / Recury / Pule / Nuane

    Progression is often a difficult thing for an electronic based act to achieve. Progression often occurs as a result of new technology, new samples - rather than any new ideas. On the face of it, previous Autechre elements of sound are all over 'Chiastic Slide', so there is nothing new in that respect. What is slightly new is the way those same elements have been employed. The blasts of electronic, industrial sounding noise that sat almost unnecessarily atop certain Autechre songs of the past is woven into the very fabric of the songs on display here. 'Cipater' is an astonishing beginning. Industrial sounds grind and repeat, the loops are short and repeated throughout. This is a very rhythmic piece of music, the bumps and grinds of machinery ( drills and hammers, etc ) becoming the bed over which pieces of attractive melody rise through. 'Cipater' is hypnotic and very repeat playable, even with a near nine minute long length. 'Rettic AC' sounds like someone walking through a very windy moor, trekking across an inhospitable landscape. Quite an amazing thing to be created by an electronic studio act, from pure sound. A haunting melody runs through the sound of a struggle against the elements. This is different and new. 'Tewe' is irregular rhythms and odd sounds which combined together in fairly minimalist fashion still creates melody. The melody here is the rhythm created by an assorted of 'industrial' sounding noises. 'Cichli' is the most immediately approachable track of the album, the noises and percussive elements taking second place to a melody which is at once clever, inventive and approachable. This is a warm sounding song, but the cold is never very far away. 'Hub' is very challenging and abstract and forgoes melody almost completely.

    'Calbruc' is a blast of ugly noise and high pitched sounds before a quite beautiful section of almost holy sounding music comes through all the ugliness. 'Chiastic Slide' is a very well sequenced record, by the way. The way the songs flow into one another and the contrasts between them makes perfect sense. This doesn't come across as a mere collection of songs. The holy sounding melody of 'Calbruc' turns into a child's music-box. This is brilliant stuff. You feel like you've been on a journey. 'Recury' retains elements of industrial noise that has characterised the entire record and surrounds these elements with another beautiful ambient melody. 'Pule' is very happy sounding, very cheerful simple electronic melodies and the 'noise' aspect has been dropped from this piece. Variety, and an album that works well as an album, not always the case with techno/electronica acts. 'Nuane' wraps things up with a return to industrial sounds, very grinding sounds battling directly against the more melodic aspects of the track. It works. Highly recommended stuff, simply worlds and universes removed from the likes of Chemical Brothers or The Prodigy.

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    Readers Comments

    lateraliner08 kida53027@yahoo.com


    top of page LP5 ( 1998 )
    Acroyear2 / 777 / Rae / Melve / Vose In / Fold4, Wrap5 / Under Boac / Corc / Caliper Remote / Arch Carrier / Drane2

    'Acroyear2' sounds like a normal Autechre song, only sped up quite significantly. It sounds like it's on at the wrong speed entirely, and would work much better at 33.3rpm, even though this is actually a CD, and my comment therefore meaningless to those of you either not familiar with vinyl, or not familiar with BBC Radio One DJ John Peel, who often puts records on at the wrong speed, 'by mistake', only half the time they sound better than they do at the correct speed! If I could slow this song down, I would quite frankly. It gives me a headache. '777' isn't the number of the beast, but then what did you expect? There is something fascinating about it, though. A very strange mixture of sounds, albeit forgoing melody and anything remotely resembling approachability, whatsoever. So far, it sounds like the entire album was created on speed. 'Rae' does improve things, a nice floating ambient melody underneath the beats holding this together. The beats and rhythms are jerky and irregular, but combined with something you can hold onto or approach, work very well, work better than they would on their own with 'random' other effects, aka the first two songs here. 'Melve' is child-like, but charmingly so - a brief interlude and nothing more. 'Vose In' is another interesting noise experiment, with lots of fascinating, if not exciting, things going on sonically.

    Um..... 'Under BOAC' is, um, interesting and very metallic sounding! A good track actually! 'Fold4 Wrap5' is entirely forgettable and may as well not be here, and this is progress? 'Corc' works, 'Caliper Remote' doesn't, being a short piece of melody-less filler. 'Arch Carrier' works completely, very Kraftwerk, although very modern at the same time. Thumping beats come in, and six minutes are spent very enjoyably. The closing 'Drane 2' is deeply strange, and there you have 'LP5'. Happy? I'm not! Goddamit!! Apparently, to according to All Music Guide ( a very reliable source!?! ) 'Chiastic Slide' wasn't considered by the band themselves as a serious work, and this was? Well, excuse me. <

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    william williamasneddon@yahoo.com.au
    I'd have to disagree with your rating on this, as lp5 was a considerably kick-ass album. "acroyear2"is great at that speed, any slower and it would start to become repetitive and monotonous. Also, you forgot the mention the incredible song "rae". A 9 from me.

    Maurice Roca fraim25@aol.com
    I always considered this their best album. I know many people who gave up on them after this one. I consider it their last great one and my favorite after Tri Repetae.


    top of page Confield 6 ( 2001 )
    VI scose poise / Cfern / Pen expers / Sim gishel / Parhelic triangle / Bine/ Eidetic casein / Uviol / Lentic catachresis

    Autechre get name-checked in interviews by Radiohead, but what have they themselves done in the aftermath of 'Kid A' and 'Amnesiac'? This, their sixth album is rather a mixture. The opening "VI Scose Poise" is nothing more than the sound of something resembling marbles knocking together, or a pinball machine, for a rather trying seven minutes. Hmmm, that's certainly gonna get people excited isnít it? Its neither beautiful nor enjoyable and seems to have no purpose whatsoever. The second track starts the album proper, for me. "Cfern" has abstract techno beats and a nice melody layered underneath. "Pen Expers" is abstract, but without a melody to save it this time round. Often across this album it seems we have experimentation for the sake of it, almost as if Autechre are trying purposefully to remain marginalized, making sure they don't benefit at all from the attention of a few curious Radiohead fans, for example. "Sim Gishel" is another strange piece but at least this time there is something to hold onto. "Sim Gishel" is all atmosphere and rhythm and it works well. "Parhelic Triangle" is full of weird sounds but they do create an interesting overall atmosphere, and this is a good track. "Bine" sounds simply horrific. A complete lack of anything remotely approaching the listener.

    As the album progresses you get more and more weary of what's going on in one sense, and in another almost 'making sense' of the albums uncompromising approach, although never quite. The final song is enjoyable however, a melody layered underneath the noises and abstract effects, and this makes for a slightly ( only slightly! ) more easily listenable piece. That is of course until it all descends into noise to close. Overall you are left with a feeling of Autechre being difficult here in 'Confield', of experimentation few will even bother to meet halfway and spend the time digging deeper to see what the record really has to offer.

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    top of page Draft 7:30 8 ( 2003 )
    Xylin Room / IV VV IV VV VIII / 61e.CR / Tapr / Surripere / Theme of Sudden Roundabout / VL Al 5 / P.:Ntil / V-Proc / Reniform Puls

    Synth pop 'pioneers' Depeche Mode back in the eighties advised their listeners to 'get the balance right'. This advice could equally apply to Autechre and their more recent long-playing outings, the rather worryingly obtuse 'Confield' album, especially. Still, the news surrounding 'Draft 7:30' is good. Autechre continue with the more abstract sounds of 'Confield' but have made sure that plenty of other things are going on as well. 'Draft 7:30' is far fuller sounding than the groups recent efforts in terms of interesting background detail in each and every track. Thus the opening 'Xylin Room' contains the kind of abstract clattering mechanical noises of 'Confield' yet also sees fit to include melodic fragments running underneath, quietly - yet providing the bedrock of the track. 'Xylin Room' runs for just over six minutes, the next few tracks vary from the three minute long, deeply strange minimal ambient beauty of 'Tapr' through to the nosier, more usual ( although only more usual by Autechre standards! ) techno of the five and a half minute long '61e.CR'. There is a definite centerpiece to the 'Draft 7:30' album, and that centerpiece arrives courtesy of the ambitious eleven and a half minute 'Surripere'. Now this is the buisness. Ambient sounds and melodies are layered underneath neat and uncluttered techno beats through the tracks introduction. The sounds and melodies laying underneath these beats change and progress as the song progresses. A deeply modern, minimal abstract beauty is present alongside technological fear and the sound of machinery gone wrong. Through the tracks closing sequence, the beautiful ambient melody vanishes to be replaced by noisy and sharp abstract beats underneath which it sounds like someone is slowly dying, technology unable to help them. Ugliness overcomes beauty until ugliness is all that remains. 'Surripere' is truly a wonderful, captivating track.

    'Theme Of A Sudden Roundabout' is a squelchy sounding modern jungle of machinery and fear, 'VL AL 5' rewards attentive listening as so very much is going on under and surrounding the main flow and progress of the piece. 'P.:Ntil' intially sounds exactly like how you imagine music created by computers and machines to sound like. The human element arrives via various melodies seemingly fighting a technological onslaught and only just succeeding. But, pay attention and the abstract modern machine sounds seemingly fade, even though they are still there. Very simple melodic shapes appear, child-like, amongst this abstract and seemingly random noise and distortion. Surprises continue with a real funky beat appearing most unexpectedly all through the playful 'V-Proc' which leaves us just with the eight and a half minute long 'Reniform Puls' to close. A nice piece of relaxtion? The melodies are beautiful, although it can't be relaxing of course, because the cutting edge sounds of computers and technology beep and rush and cause us all far too much strain and stress. The melodies fight to be heard, everything dissolves - but this is a trip. 'Draft 7:30'? One of Autechres finest, for my money.

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    top of page Untitled ( 2005 )
    LCC / Ipacial Section / Pro Radii / Augmatic Disport / Iera / Fermium / The Trees / Sublimit

    More songs to frighten young children with. Recent releases by Autechre have been demanding in the extreme, and whilst 'Untitled' still has all the abstract nature and experimentation you'd expect from Autechre, it's also gone a small way, only a small way mind, to at least include some kind of regular beats in the songs along the way. Ah, at this point in time, i'm going to include a couple of links to pages attempting to define music. Why? Well, it could be said that the noisy, intrusive beats and squelches of a piece such as 'Augmatic Disport' isn't music at all. ( see article ). I would disagree with such an assesment, because anything intended to be music by the composer, is music by default. The listener may not perceive it as such, but then again, another listener will. Well, i'm not going to get into a debate here, that's for the Twitter. Anyway, back to 'Augmatic Disport'. It arrives at a mellower section around the five minute mark that is punctuated again by the intrusive, abstract beats. It's a composition that has definable sections, a beginning, a middle and an ending. This hasn't always been the case with recent Autechre work. So although the compositions on 'Untitled' are perhaps stretching the boundaries of what could be considered 'a song', they do resemble songs in terms of structure, at least more so than certain Autechre of the past. This is still a challenging album to listen to, though. 'Untitled' demands that some time is spent initially concentrating on the layers beneath, on the spaces the noises and the variations. The tracks on the LP vary from four minutes, fifty five seconds in length to a monstrous fifteen minutes, fifty two seconds in length. A couple of the shorter pieces arrive at the beginning of the second half. 'Fermium' is fairly approachable and seems to resemble some form of space age Jazz music, with everything stripped away. A computer attempting to define Jazz in the form of beeps, squelches, sound and rhythm. 'Iera' contains a layer of mellow spookiness underneath, the rhythms and sounds above working against this, an unsettling effect.

    The opening 'LCC' opens with near silence, then clattering sounds akin to a hammer beating a sheet of metal punctuate the speedy beats. A barely discernable drone carries on quietly underneath. 'LCC' is another composition in sections and it's a highlight of the set. Around the three and a half minute mark, we have a sequence that is noticeably lighter in sound, around the near six minute mark, sequences of fairly beautiful actual melody come in underneath the still continuing beats that are marking out the rhythm. 'LCC' is a track that is just stunning, it's moves from breathless exhilaration through to something resembling a comedown of sadness, or sleep. Anyway, it's good to have Autechre back, and to have them back operating at close to peak form throughout.

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    top of page Quaristice 8 ( 2008 )
    Altibzz / Plc / IO / PlyPhon / Perlence / SonDEremawe / Simmm / Paralel Suns / Steels / Tankakern / Rale / Fol3 / FwzE / 90101 51 1 / Bnc Castl / Theswere / WNSN / Chenc9 / Notwo / Outh9X

    'Quaristice' requires time for the listener to digest. Such a statement will come as no surprise to the groups long-term fans. 'Quaristice' features 20 sketches we should say, rather than 20 fully developed compositions. There's both a looseness and a warmness to the music - which marks a change from cold, harsh and metallic releases by Autechre of late. Whereas before they'd been trying to impress and innovate, 'Quaristice' comes across more a collection merely cementing all previous Autechre styles together. The album seems to be something of a patchwork quilt, which makes sense when you learn these songs were created by Autechre 'reconfiguring and versioning' elements of their live show. 'Quaristice' is less innovation than marking time - Autechre have put together a seventy five minute, variety filled companion LP. We've got ambient pieces, we've got faster, fractured pieces, we've one song that sounds like clocks and one song that sounds like house music without the house. This is a fairly unassuming LP that running to seventy five minutes is perhaps too long to stay in the memory when we're talking hookless Autechre music. Hooks never really were the point of it all. Well, the opening two tracks hark back to Aphex Twin style music, the former a nice ambient wave, the latter clanking and squeaking and belching its way towards you in a neverending zoom down the motorway fast-lane.

    Highlights are often difficult to pick out on avant-garde-type electronic albums such as this, but i'll gamely attempt to do so. 'chenc9' is taken at a fast tempo, fairly regular, irregular beats for Autechre, yet with a nice, ambient style melody weaving in and out underneath. The first two tracks, already mentioned, certainly are highlights. 'Simmm' is the one that sounds like clocks - it also sounds like an early Atari ST computer game. It's good stuff! Overall, i'm happy enough with 'Quaristice'. Yeah, perhaps it's twenty minutes too long and perhaps it breaks no new ground, but you wouldn't bet against these guys further delving into brand new sounds once again in the future.

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    Readers Comments

    Adrian Mules
    Does the Atari ST to which you refer have the built in TV Modulator or not? This is key for my enjoyment of the record.


    top of page this page last updated 11/05/08


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