Autechre are one of the most intriguing groups of the last twenty or so years, not just in the field of electronic music, but music at large. While impressive on a technical level, with particular regard to production techniques, their signature brand of schizophrenia is as inimitable as the day is long. Whether you prefer the ethereal warmth of Amber
, the alien sound scapes of Tri Repetae
, or the quasi-formlessness of Confield
, Autechre’s music is invariably distinct. The beauty of it seems to depend on who you talk to - some revel in the impeccably sculpted rhythms, some in the juxtaposition of dissonant and consonant ideas, while others conjure analogies so wayward that, should they not have been describing an Autechre track, would sound like asylum-bound lunatics. The truth is that there is no wrong answer to what makes these guys so remarkable, and no wrong answer as to which of their albums best encapsulates what they stand for as musicians.
Many artists have gone through one or more stylistic shifts throughout their careers, but this English duo seem to reinvent themselves with just about every album, each and every time managing to create something decidedly Autechre
is in a unique position in that it sounds like a transitional album, having shed the morsels of humanity that Tri Repetae
retained from earlier efforts while hinting at the musical dementia that came in the form of Confield
doesn’t really sound like musicians attempting to express themselves via their equipment, but an elegant duet of man and machine, locked together in some sort of bio-mechanical harmony. Although the tracks are all driven by concrete rhythms, such is the eccentric nature of some of the arrangements that beats can take minutes to properly flesh out. Songs such a “Vose In” initially appear quite straightforward – by Autechre’s standards, at least – before steadily dissembling into nebulous chaos in a way that needs to be heard to be believed. “Under BOAC” employs the same process but in reverse, as consonance arises from disarray in one fluid motion, you could be fooled into thinking it was completely accidental.
In addition to the rhythmic mayhem, LP5
is littered with blips, bloops, tweaks, clangs and other nuances that are simply beyond any kind of onomatopoeia. The tracks are constantly developing, at times appearing to collapse under their own weight before reassembling by divinely guided chance. Some are more direct, such as the opening pair “Acroyear2” and “777”, which are both frenetic assaults on your senses. “Rae” and “Corc” bring the overall intensity down a notch and add subtle synth lines which create a mosaic of shattered ambience. Just like the tracks themselves, the album itself is in perpetual evolution, with thematic variation as rich and abundant as the intricacies that comprise its individual units. “Fold4, Wrap5” and “Drane2” bring the warmth that the album largely forgoes, while the aforementioned “Under BOAC” and “Arch Carrier” are almost alien in terms of aesthetics, creating an unsettling mood despite being two of the more conservative cuts, compositionally speaking. Indeed, every listen of LP5
, whether you’re uninitiated or well-versed in the album and Autechre at large, will reveal something new.
, like all of Autechre’s material, is something that civilly requests your attention as opposed to demanding it. As such, you can look at it on a superficial level and still be gobsmacked by the scrupulous rhythms and spotless sound engineering, but at the same time will be doing the album a disservice. The album’s allure is in the details, both in terms of the textural facets and the development of ideas through each track. It’s difficult to even call LP5
a highpoint when you consider the scope of Autechre’s output. Regardless, this is an indispensable chapter in their story, and a must have for anyone who considers themselves a fan of music both intricate and abstract.