Autechre
Incunabula


4.0
excellent

Review

by Justin Swope USER (81 Reviews)
November 28th, 2012 | 27 replies | 1,427 views


Release Date: 1993 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Incunabula is an intricate enigma that visits the unexplored depths of electronic music.

10 of 10 thought this review was well written

Autechre are trailblazers of intelligent dance music. This fascinating electronic duo has succeeded in creating some of the most forward-thinking and clever music. On the duo's first LP, Incunabula, Autechre forge a laid-back but committed sonic episode. Incunabula can be approached in various ways, but paying close attention to its subtleties yields the most riveting results.

Incunabula can serve as calming background music, but it can also provide an engaging headphone experience. After listening to the album in these different ways, I would definitely call this a multipurpose album. However, when I listen through headphones and dedicate all of my attention to the music itself, I feel like I am being swept away by an unescapable current. Nevertheless, this album endures a series of transformations throughout its duration that keep the album from feeling claustrophobic.

Many of the tracks truly evolve, especially some of the longer tracks like "Windwind" and "Bike". "Windwind", for instance. begins as an ambient track that is soon uprooted by a bizarre grouping of beats. It takes almost the entire song for these beats to adequately complement one another and, as a result, the track feels like it is growing in size each minute. On the other hand, there are moments in which the music feels static and practically immobile like the engrossing "Kalpol Introl". This provides a careful balance on a record that manages to prevent itself from tripping over its own feet. In addition, Incunabula is incredibly abstract. It seems to hold back on displaying its character and this produces an air of mystery. However, the album is far from formless.

While there are standout tracks on this album, the album is better viewed as a singular body. In this way, some of the tracks begin to make a bit more sense. "Basscadet" is one of the album's most cathartic tracks, exploding with engrossing percussion and perfectly fitting vocal samples. As the vocals state, it's hard to figure out what's is going on in this track, but Autechre certainly engages in some vigorous exploration. The messy quality of the track enhances its impulsiveness and thrives on utter disarray. "Eggshell" is a more controlled but forceful brand of dance music that responds to the previous track with more conviction. Like a few other tracks on this LP, this song infiltrates the unvisited corners of electronica.

Incunabula is not only mystifying, but it also is extremely cerebral. Autechre fosters some of the most perceptive soundscapes through sprawling synthesizers and computer effects that coat the surfaces of tracks like "Maetl". Additionally, the gentle touch of keyboards in "Lowride" polish the surrounding environment and depict a large degree of production finesse. This LP can also be demanding. Discovering the secrets of Incunabula requires effort from the listener. After revisiting the album multiple times, I was able to appreciate the cogency of "444", the closing track which presents a couple different faces, one being a dark, haunting entity skulking in the haze of suppressed robotic percussion and the other being a bright reformation that represents light at the end of the tunnel.

Autechre's debut is more intellectual than emotional, but its mysteries are best unraveled with an open mind. Its intent remains an enigma, but its penetrating effects and textures make it easier to pinpoint the source of this confusion. The beats are distinguished and the progression varies for each track. However, the LP's greatest strength is the breathing room it provides for the music. Some tracks spread their wings and mesmerize the listener while others step back and allow the mind to wander. Ultimately, it's up to the listener to unveil Incunabula's secrets. No one said it would be easy.

Favorite Tracks:
444
Basscadet
Eggshell
Maetl
Lowride



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
November 28th 2012



18241 Comments


dont like this album too much. its kind of a mess.

Digging: Syndrone - Salmataxia

ThroneOfAgony
November 28th 2012



3485 Comments


bands pretty bland tbh

breakingthefragile
November 28th 2012



2954 Comments


Ya'll serious? Autechre is right up there with Underworld.

Flagran12
November 28th 2012



65 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review. This gets forgotten among Autechre's earlier stuff.

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
November 28th 2012



18241 Comments


this is the only autechre i dont like. they are probably my favorite artist at this point in time actually.

mindleviticus
November 28th 2012



8200 Comments


way better than my review of this... that was horrible :p
I had mine deleted

CaptainDooRight
November 28th 2012



28753 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

a very solid review sir Pos'd

haven't heard this one yet but it's def been on my to check out list

Digging: Tukaaria - Raw to the Rapine

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
November 28th 2012



31053 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good shit

Digging: Marcel Dettmann - Fabric 77

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
November 29th 2012



31053 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5


this is the only autechre i dont like.


Just curious, but what phase of theirs do you like the most? The more ambient spaced out era, or when they forgot how to make a beat?

wacknizzle
November 29th 2012



12896 Comments


Good review, I'll have to check this out. I've been meaning to hear more Autechre since I heard EP7 and thought it was sweet.

Digging: Plebeian Grandstand - Lowgazers

jtswope
November 29th 2012



2001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'd definitely recommend checking this one out.

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
November 29th 2012



4507 Comments


always appreciate an autechre review

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
November 29th 2012



23801 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Autechre are trailblazers of intelligent dance music. This fascinating electronic duo has succeeded in creating some of the most forward-thinking and clever music."

that should be cut down. reads really awkwardly.

"Just curious, but what phase of theirs do you like the most? The more ambient spaced out era, or when they forgot how to make a beat?"

fucking lol. I still have their 4 most recent albums to get to before I've heard it all, but yeah what the fuck did they start smoking after Tri Repetae? (actually LP5 is good too)

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
November 29th 2012



31053 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oh yeah, I didn't mean that as a negative, but shit lets be honest here

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
November 29th 2012



23801 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

haha

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
November 29th 2012



4507 Comments


I love the early stuff, but they peaked hard with Confield, Draft 7.30, and Untilted. Those three albums mastered a sound nobody had gotten quite right at the turn of the century, that choatic mathematical dissonance. Aphex Twin tired it with Drukqs and Venetian Snares on multiple albums, and while entertaining, both were conflicted with old melodic ideas and were relatively cheesy at times. Autechre on the other hand were constructing something different, something so far left-field that nobody has dared to match it since. It was a cold, dismal, and desolate sound (especially Confield) that matched levels of masterful EAI and Free Improvisation composers. Though it was a naked and deprived sound, those three albums to this day are endlessly compelling listens. They certainly aren't for everybody, and I'm not trying coming off as one of those - IT'S SOO WEIRD, THAT'S WHY IS GOOD - types because that's not the case. Autechre simply took electronic music to places it hadn't been before, treading the fine line between what's experimental and what's listenable without crashing and burning.

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
November 29th 2012



18241 Comments


Just curious, but what phase of theirs do you like the most? The more ambient spaced out era, or when they forgot how to make a beat?


i like both, but as far as what i listen to more it's probably their spaced out ambient years. i have yet to listen to 100% of their discog but these are my 5 favorites.

1. tri repetae
2. lp5
3. amber
4. confield
5. chiastic slide

and their earlier ep's like anvil vapre and garbage are somewhere in the middle of amber and confield

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
November 29th 2012



18241 Comments


also i must have been in terrible moods when i listened to this before because its a bit better than i
remember it being

i thought it was more all over the place for some reason

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
November 29th 2012



23801 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this used to be my 2nd favourite behind Tri Repetae, but that spot goes to Amber now - I had a moment with that record last month it was like ....fuk

Zettel
November 29th 2012



589 Comments


@Mister Tornado:

Excellent comment. I feel very inclined to agree with you.



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