Autechre
Confield


5.0
classic

Review

by Jacquibim STAFF
January 23rd, 2015 | 823 replies


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist


Concerning Autechre, perhaps the only thing more fascinating than their music’s descent into quasi-formlessness is the division among their admirers. Though Tri Repetae will probably remain their most widely lauded opus until their – as yet – unforeseeable fade from prominence, rarely will you find a group with such a quality body of work, so rich in diversity that it totally eludes a consensus favourite. Autechre’s sixth full-length album divides enthusiasts like no other, abstract to the point that even devout fans have condemned it as a step too far. Conversation relating to the duo’s output is usually rich in superlatives and enigmatic, metaphorical interpretations, while the merits of each release are often contested because of their cryptic nature. That is until the subject of Autechre’s most challenging creation arises, and the answer is universal:

Confield.

In the wake of EP7 – which was in itself a departure from normality – Confield obliterated the line between method and madness, and any sense of compromise was erased entirely. Though later albums like Draft 7.30 and Untilted may be, technically, just as accomplished, the bewilderment that Confield imbues the listener with is something that remains unique to it nearly fifteen years later. The opener “VI Scose Poise” demonstrates this as well as – or even better than – any of the following cuts, syncopated to such an extreme that you’d be forgiven for dismissing the song as a collection of ball bearings jostling about a glass bowl. The manner in which Booth and Brown achieve this is no mean feat as, contrary to what first impressions suggest, the album strictly adheres to the principles of time and metre – albeit chopped and skewed to a degree that they’re, at points, rendered almost unrecognisable. It’s so far removed from convention that most would hesitate to call it music, but far too conscious of its workings to be considered noise or experimental-for-the-sake-of-it. It bends, warps and twists the rules, all while tangentially obeying them, never transgressing to the point that any are outright broken.

While Autechre’s penchant for hiding consonance amid chaos may be apparent, it neither detracts from the album’s variety, nor does it irritate. A lot of tracks here are surprisingly minimal, building upon subtly evolving rhythms with sparse synth lines, depressive melodies and an assortment of atonal nuances, pulses and drones. “Sim Gishel” and “Uviol” both revolve around singular motifs for upwards of seven and eight minutes, inducing trance-like states while minutia incrementally slips in and out of fame. However, while these cuts may be stripped-down, they seldom provide a sense of calm, and instead further the cold, alien, extra-dimensional atmosphere that is so off-putting to some. There is a distance and loneliness to these songs that’s never manifested in Autechre’s work since, even as technology continues to advance and the complexity is – bit by bit – dialled up on each instalment. Even “Eidetic Casein”, by far the most upbeat song on the album, has its fair share of sinister eccentricities, only made to seem endearing by the content that bookends it.

This effect is a critical part of the album’s allure.

Confield conditions the listener to find beauty in what would otherwise seem grotesque, with the exemplar being the third track, “Pen Expers”. A melodic synth line is obscured by a frenetic, bit-crushed beat, and the two are seemingly locked in a musical phone booth, competing for space that just isn’t there. As the struggle turns violent, the song is seemingly on the precipice of collapsing. That is before the synth line subsides and the beat rapidly disintegrates – having gone mad and expired, as though neither could exist without that which they destroyed in a panic. Contrast this approach with tracks like “Bine” and “Lentic Catachresis”, which are rhythmically similar to “VI Scose Poise” but are significantly denser and almost claustrophobic to listen to. There is no duality at play here, nor any reprieve to latch on to once everything is in motion; these tracks simply overwhelm and force you to embrace the rhythmic bedlam. These tightly coiled sequences are what showcase the duo at their best; while lesser artists forgo technique in pursuit of effect, Autechre embrace it with zeal. Everything you hear from them, no matter your take on the presentation, was intended to sound exactly as is, illustrating why Confield is and always will be a landmark release in terms of both composition and production.

There is no definitive way to describe an album like Confield, although something akin to “a work comprised of paradoxes” will have to suffice. It’s beautifully ugly, effortlessly unnatural, emotive yet completely inorganic, etc. It also would be cliché – yet oh-so convenient – to say that the most arduous songs are the most rewarding in the end, because the truth is that each cut on Confield is as integral as the next, and the album’s diversity is just as crucial to the experience as the quality of its content. As novel a piece of work as you will ever come across, perhaps it’s no surprise that even its creators haven’t been able to replicate it.



Recent reviews by this author
Beneath the Massacre FearmongerGrave Infestation Infesticide (demo)
Obliteration Cenotaph ObscureRevocation The Outer Ones
Tomb Mold Manor of Infinite FormsRitual Necromancy Disinterred Horror
user ratings (341)
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
TheSpaceMan (5)
10001110101...

Shadowed Reflection (4.5)
An interesting listen which rewards repeated plays, however it is certainly not for everyone....

BaselineOOO (5)
The capacity of human intelligence seems to limit the capabilities to expand upon any possible creat...

Zebra (2)
An uncharacteristically boring album from Autechre...


Comments:Add a Comment 
adr
January 23rd 2015


12069 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

no summary neg

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Emeritus
January 23rd 2015


6762 Comments


oooo nice nice. not as big on this album but I'm kinda stoked to read this

RivalSkoomaDealer
January 23rd 2015


1632 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Great write up for this masterpiece.

Digging: Chromatics - Closer to Grey

Keyblade
January 23rd 2015


28819 Comments


First paragraph sums up why these guys are one of the best ever. Superb review.

Is Hype rev'ing this? Would love to see his perspective on this too



Digging: The Weeknd - After Hours

Gwyn.
January 23rd 2015


17190 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah he mentioned he's been working on a review for it for quite sometime now, looking forward to reading that





Good review jac-o < 3

CaptainDooRight
January 23rd 2015


4274 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

right on jac

Digging: Hallas - Conundrum

ResidentNihilist
January 23rd 2015


1367 Comments


definitely shows you put a lot of work in it, probably your best review bro

Relinquished
January 23rd 2015


43511 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

sweet, well done dude





now review garbage

Kman418
January 23rd 2015


13271 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

cool review my broes

Torontonian
January 23rd 2015


2688 Comments


i hate this band with a bloody passion but great review

Artuma
January 23rd 2015


31495 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

why

Digging: The Old Wind - Feast On Your Gone

Torontonian
January 23rd 2015


2688 Comments


the music sucks imo. I honestly can't differentiate this from random noise and its just unsettling and annoying and whiny.

Torontonian
January 23rd 2015


2688 Comments


to be fair though, i only listened to this album for about 5 minutes so i'm not exactly knowledgable but those 5 minutes were horrific.

Relinquished
January 23rd 2015


43511 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"i'm not exactly knowledgable"



all that you needed to say. start listening to this group chronologically.

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Emeritus
January 23rd 2015


6762 Comments


yeah I enjoy their earlier albums more tbh though some listeners find them boring, so idk you might take to them more kindly

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Emeritus
January 23rd 2015


6762 Comments


me? can't say that I do, you?

treeqt.
January 23rd 2015


16968 Comments


ok we good 😏

Digging: Golem Mecanique - Nona, decima et morta

adr
January 23rd 2015


12069 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Boards of Canada are far more enjoyble to listen than this so

Hyperion1001
Emeritus
January 24th 2015


19985 Comments


great review dude, this needs to be flagged asap over that older one

that opening paragraph is some of the best writing ive seen you do

Kman418
January 24th 2015


13271 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

how are boc and autechre even related past both fitting under the general tag of idm



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy