Review Summary: Dark, depressing, desolate and dismal.....but hey! the music's awesome!
If art is a product of environment then Autechre
should make truly horrendous music. As you have no doubt glanced at the rating in the top left corner of your browser it’s clear this is not the case. To bring some clarity to things Autechre
are Rob Brown and Sean Booth an electronic duo from Rochdale, a satellite town if you like as Manchester, England (birthplace of Oasis, The Smiths
and Joy Division
to name but a few). Rochdale is what we in the north refer to as a ***hole. It’s what Newark is to New Jersey and what Nanterre is to Paris and is as close as Britain comes to the ghetto.
Of course for years huge waves in music have been born from the most unpleasant circumstances. So of what relevance is this to Autechre? Well where as hip hop, jazz and even punk represented a fight back and a stand (or at the very least a distraction) by their creators against their environment, Autechre created their art as a mirror of their environment. “Tri Repetae” is the spirit of Radiohead
’s “Kid A” and “OK Computer” (despite obviously preceding them both) taken to its most extreme conclusions and where as Thom Yorke
loves to deal with the soullessness of modern life and separation from reality as lyrical themes, Autechre have created it in an unabridged musical form. They have taken the bleakest of themes of depression and isolation and made them even less identifiable, by taking away any vocal or live instrumental element they have removed any human aspect and turned those emotions into the most emotionless of compositions. Of course the whole thing is an oxymoron because while the music itself is stripped of any kind of passion it’s that absence which proves the records strength and makes for an incredibly powerful and enjoyable piece of music.
As with any piece of music in this style to pick and pull at certain tracks is to miss the point of the album entirely. “Tri Repetae” is a swirling world of constantly evolving glitch tracks combined with hard bass and drum loops all written in competing time signatures. The entire form and construction of their music was groundbreaking for their time and signalled a great leap forward for the genre. Much of their music builds in a linear fashion with loops stepping on top of each other over the course of songs rather than operating in pop music style cycles and texture is created not with earthy or melodic synth tones (there probably isn’t a melodic note on the whole record) but with cold, alien blasts of noise giving the songs on almost no-wave style aura in that Autechre
have completely disregarded what most people would consider music, forsaking structure, melody and anything which resembles traditional music creation. The attention to detail here is really something to behold and where as there is perhaps a negative stereotype of electronic music of being the same six loops played for six minutes this couldn’t be further from the truth with regards to Autechre
. Beneath the focal loops of the tracks there is constantly something fresh bubbling under the surface of the album waiting to explode or recess again into the background.
In terms of Autechre
’s back catalogue ‘Tri Repetae’ is generally regarded as the bands finest work and is the bridge between their Kraftwerk
inspired past and their avant garde future. As both a landmark album for the genre and the band it is an essential album for any fan of electronic music and a great starting point for a new listener.