Tag Archives: Autechre


It probably goes without saying that the release of each Autechre album is a listening event for me and many like-minded music nerds, but for Oversteps this is more true than it otherwise might be after the London gig in support of Quaristice (one of the best musical experiences of my life), and all the variants on that album, which sat very well with me. It’s definitely one of my favourite Autechre albums, if not top of the list (controversial, I know).

Oversteps feels like a logical follow-up to Quaristice. It sounds very Nord heavy to my ears, as was Quaristice, but you can also hear the digital elements that they’ve reintroduced here. If I had to sum up the production in a word, it would be “crunchy”. You first notice this on the second track, ilanders. A lot of sounds decay or release in to bit reduction, which gives them an explosive sound and is quite disorienting over the first few listens. This is a part of a sound which normally creates ambience rather than demanding our continued attention. By creating in this typically-taken-for-granted space, they define a really unusual, demanding acoustic space. I certainly wouldn’t be averse to hearing other people exploit this approach. It’s probably strange to focus on the production so early in my comments, but it really is definitive of the album. It’s an essential part of what they’ve created.

I prefer the second half of the album, or basically everything from track 7 forward. I think the first half establishes the mood/palette well and holds the whole thing together as an album, but the individual tracks don’t do as much for me in isolation. Put another way, I think the first six tracks set out the boundaries of the album and the rest of it is the identity, if that makes any sense. Somehow I don’t have a great deal to say about those first tracks, so forgive me if I focus on the stuff that I find most compelling. If you’re interested to read more about that part of the album, my friend Kent focused on it in his review.

My favourite track is Treale. This feels like the full realisation of the Oversteps sound to me: heavily composed but rooted in repetition. Competing melodies jostle for focus while politely sliding out of the way when they’ve said their bit. The production is amazing. The resonance on the edge of one of the main melodies feels like a razor through the brain. This happily carries along for just under four minutes when it suddenly comes together as a single melody across five or six instruments. This sneaks up for a couple of repeats before taking a completely sensical but unexpected turn. This all sounds very much like Autechre and no one else. It’s everything I like about their music and precisely what I look for in music more generally.

The eighth track, os_veix3, sounds like Flutter part II to me. Again, this track is pure Autechre idiosynchracy, which leads nicely in to O0, which is distilled Autechre melody left to its own devices.

I think it would be a better album without track 10, d-sho_qub. It starts out with a distressingly happy tone. I’ve tried very hard to like this track and I just don’t. It completely interrupts what is the best part of the album for me. The beat is cool (huge) and they do some wicked effects fuckery around it, but that melody ruins it for me. That said, it wouldn’t be an Autechre album if you weren’t thwarted in a few places. Also, the end of the track with the crazy 2001 voices (Jacob Arnold beat me to this description) is sweet. It really leads on to the end of the album well, but that first four minutes of it is a blemish.

If d-sho_qub was Autechre at their most twee and melodically indulgent, then the 11th track, st_epreo is them at their most rhythmic. It definitely brings things back on track, and showcases their production skills more than any other track on the album.

If it weren’t already obvious, the melodies can’t be easily categorised. The 12th track, redfall starts out sounding like classic Plaid, but with an utterly immense resonant reverb beast that pops in and out of the mix on the periphery of what can be considered melody. On the Warp cousins tip, the fifth track, qplay, starts off sounding a lot like Boards of Canada. They’ve definitely explored melodically on this album more than on any of their earlier releases.

From the tail end of the twelfth track through the end we’re in beatless territory again. There’s a whole lotta big melody. In these tracks you can hear how they’re often using release or reverb where others might use pads. This is done throughout the album but is most noticeable at the end. It’s an unusual approach that works very well in this case.

In short, as an album it’s pure win. As Jacob Arnold said in the link above, it’s worth spending a month of your life listening to this album and not much else. It’s fantastically rewarding. Given that there’s only the one track that I wish I could remove this is a probable album of the year. Now on to that 12 hour radio show!

The Ae Ritual

So I got the two most recent Autechre albums in my last big haul. I recall that when Tri Repetae came out, I had just started to really get them, after the Anti-ep, Amber, Garbage and Anil Vapre had really made an impression (the earlier stuff is not as consistent IMO). I had invested a lot of time and energy into learning their music, when I’d clearly not come from the same musical roots. Electro was a foreign thing to me, intentionally thwarting the steadyness I typically gravitated towards. But between the GPR and AI stuff of the time, I started to catch on. Even when it didn’t always have immediate appeal, I knew it would be music that would be worth the time required to get acquainted.

So Tri Repetae came out, and I rushed home from the store, slapped on my headphones, laid down in bed with the lights off, and let it roll. I couldn’t believe the result. The first 7 tracks were so intense I had to stop, and revisit the rest later. I needed a smoke, and couldn’t even finish the album. I don’t know that any other album has ever made such an impact on me so fast, which really took me by surprise after my past reactions. To this day, those first seven songs really stand out in my mind as being about as good as their 7 other best songs.

After that, with Keynell, that Gescom thing on Clear, En Vain, Chiastic Slide, EP5 and LP7, I always found one stand-out track and a few other goodies, but I was never sold on the whole thing. And on each of these there was one track with some of the most amazing melodies I’ve heard. They also busted out a few remixes in this time, like of Soft Ballet Forms and that one on !K7, which really hit the spot. But like I was saying, something of the album/ep coherence was lost. By and large I only revisited specific tracks.

Then I lost track of them for a while. When I first laid hands on Confield and Draft 7.30, I couldn’t bring myself to put them on, partly for fear of squashed expectations, and partly because I wanted to allow myself the opportunity to ingest them with patience and relaxation. I finally got through most of the other records last weekend, and Sunday afternoon I pulled up the bean bag into the Circle 5’s sweet spot, moved an ash tray over and filled my glass of water, preparing for two hours of attentive listening.

I’m not going to go into the content itself much since it’s all been covered already, and it’s old news really, but I have to note that Confield really holds together well as an album. What a treat it was to have such amazing sound right in my face. Such an improvement over listening in headphones! To my surprise, there was no stand-out track, but I liked them all even if no single track elevated me to the heights of some of my earlier favorites.

Thankfully, Draft 7.30 rediscovers melody towards the end of the album. But while I can conceptually appreciate their new directions, the noise to melody ratio is a bit lopsided for me, and those songs near the end with the great melodies that I look for tend to devolve into goo before I’m done enjoying where it was at. Sure, that’s the point, but it just doesn’t cut it for me. Oh, and what’s up with the flanger abuse on the first track? Eeew. I don’t want to rail on the whole thing because there are some very fine moments, and some really cool innovation. I’ll be sure to give it some more listens before pronouncing final judgement. Maybe I just need to gear up for a learning process again? It would be unfair not to give them the same benefit of the doubt that I did in the past. Or maybe I should give Confield some time to sink in before I try to leap four years into the future.

All Tomorrow’s Parties

Note: this post has been moved above the two below it, in order to preserve chronology – originally posted yesterday. You may want to read those for the full story. I’m trying to recap in order (and what I remember – thank goodness for this little line-up card):



The Fall were really good. Never seen them live. Not a ton for me to say really. Just good rock ‘n roll.

Public Enemy was fantastic. Haven’t lost a step, and *everyone* was getting down. You could tell they were having a great time, and it was really infectious.

Guy Called Gerald and C2 – remember liking both a lot and dancing a ton, but can’t recall any specifics really. I think Gerald played a lot of house, but my memory is quite sketchy at this point. Carl Craig was good, but as with the last time I saw him, and on The Workout, I wish he would mix more aggressively. My favorite sets from him are always more active.

Missed Baby Ford and Gescom- ran out of steam around 3:00 after being up since 7:30. Will see Baby Ford on Wednesday and Gescom on Saturday though,

so no urgency.

Saturday (AKA the day when darkness reigned and time lost meaning)


Note: the venue upstairs was nearly pitch black in the middle of the day. This was severely disorienting. Recall finding out it was 7:30 pm, thinking it was 2:00 am…

Checked Disjecta for about 15 minutes (he = Mark Clifford, once of Seefeel). He was basically just improvising on a guitar with crazy effects. It was really cool, but did my head in a bit after about 15 minutes.

El-P and Murs – damn fine rather political hip hop. El-P had a nice 15 minute turntablism intro as well. Good stuff!

Kool Keith and Kutmaster Kurt – really, really dissapointing. Utter crap. What has happened to Dr. Doom???

Bola (apparently didn’t show) but the visuals while they played some of his music (I think) were mind-blowing. Someone else may be able to fill in gaps about this.

[things get very very blurry]

Aphex Twin – WOW!!! Played about an hour of 110bpmish-techno-industrial-signature-aphex-god-knows-what that sounded like nothing I’ve ever heard before. I believe most of this was live. Concluded with an hour of drum ‘n bass – lots of ragga included. Wicked.

Skam DJs. Lots of fun. Degraded into making out with some woman on the dancefloor. VERY obnoxious. Apologies to anyone who witnessed.

In bed at a healthy 7:30am.



Arrive about 1/2-way through Stasis. Playing nice house rather poorly. Strictly Kev is a no-show (or maybe showed up about 10 minutes b4 the end of his set???) Stasis played lots of hip hop. Never heard so much ‘Stakes is High’ in one weekend. This is good.

Checked Jim O’Rourke for about 15 minutes. Nice pure ambience (i.e. no discernable beat). Not suiting my mood. Head back for more Stasis/Kev/Whatever.

Graham Massey – appears on stage with enormous wire-lantern-bulbous-head-thing. I leave immediately.

Coil (probably my most anticipated show) – really long set-up process (like 45 minutes). Really weird experimental vocally stuff with 3 Nords?!? Cool

stuff. Not right for the moment. Run downstaris for…

LFO (Mark Bell) DJ set. Had no idea what to expect from this. It probably wound up as my favorite set of the festival. Tons of techno classics mixed absolutely flawlessly (using Traktor + 1 CD player it looked like). I suspect he was cueing up two instances of the same track in Traktor and rocking doubles with it. Was really really effective. His mixing was seriously amazing. He finished with what were surely three new LFO tracks – and I can promise you, the wait has been worth it. He’s gone off the IDM deep-end, but the result is pretty stunning, and really complex. I can’t wait.

Shake’s set was not his finest – seemed to be having an off night, although he and the crowd both seemed to enjoy it quite a bit despite the mixing troubles. It got much better as it went on, but the first 1/2 of the set was pretty messy. We all have these nights though…

G-Man: played for about 20 minutes of his live set and some assbag pulled the fire alarm (or maybe it was a real fire???) – no one seemed to know for sure. Retreated to chalet.

Returned just in time for the beginning of Mark Broom. I danced non-stop. Always an excellent DJ – throwing in just enough bangers and just enough depth to keep it constantly interesting. It is true that we are spoiled for choice in London.

Surgeon: Holy crap! This was a proper Final Scratch workout. It wasn’t the best DJ set I’ve ever seen, but I’ve never seen another set like it. He went everywhere seamlessly, and directed the pace with a mastery that’s only been equalled, not surpassed.

Drexciyan DJ Stingray was tight, but hearing tracks like M4 and M5 played at 45 ruins them for me. The whole set was really really ghetto tech fast, but slowed a bit towards the end. It was a bit too much for me after 2 and a half days of non-stop movement and throbbing bass. Needless to say, Venetian Snares after him were equally lethal. I lasted about 10 minutes of their set before running in fear, clinging for sanity. And that about sums it up… in short the top three sets were:



Aphex Twin

In sum: WAY too much air hockey, blood, saliva, sweat (almost forgot about the sweat), beer, gin and amazing music for one weekend. Not nearly enough food. Can’t wait for next year when all the previous curators do one day each! This was a festival of DEMF magnitude and intensity, enhanced further by the ever-outrageous London techno massive.