Autechre
SIGN


4.0
excellent

Review

by danielito19 USER (29 Reviews)
October 16th, 2020 | 192 replies


Release Date: 10/16/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Signaling Inimitable Genius Now

Following Autechre's musical output for the last decade has been unbelievably rewarding for those of us accustomed to their axiomatic oeuvre of brain-bending beatwork, sublime melodies, and tantalizing textures. Unfortunately, it probably hasn't won them any new fans. Neophytes would goggle at Exai's two-hour runtime, elseq's four hours, or NTS's staggering full-shift eight hour length. Hell, part of me was hoping they'd keep the pattern going and release a sixteen hour content dump. While SIGN just barely cracks an hour and at first glance exhibits a much friendlier exterior of up-front melodics rather than the shredded static and ephemeral beat shifts of their recent work, SIGN is by no means a pedestrian affair, nor are Autechre resting on their laurels and phoning it in with a relaxed album of synth work. The duo's influence on the greater music scene at large cannot be overstated; they've always had somewhat of a "your favorite producer's favorite producer" status, but the hallmarks of their style have never been as prominent as now. Imagining the hyperpop abrasion of SOPHIE or 100 gecs without the proverbial giants whose shoulders they stood upon is nigh impossible. For this reason, SIGN's abandonment of the frenetic, glitchy, and artificial approach they've perfected over the last ten years marks a sublime foray into uncharted waters. While there are definitely snippets that feel like a natural extension of the techniques of NTS, like au14's fidgety beat and array of truncated beeps and boops, there is just as much material on SIGN that comes from a completely untapped methodology.

On the surface, many will draw comparisons to Autechre's established "chill" albums. SIGN is just their new take on Amber, on Oversteps. Rob and Sean are going back to their ambient days with the gorgeous pads scattered around Metaz form8, or they're retreading old ground with the synthetic squeals of F7. This is a frustrating and shallow analysis, one that views Autechre's massive body of work with a binary lens of "easy" and "difficult," one that pines for the simpler days of analog hardware and decries their digitally distorted dirges, and above all, one that isn't listening, on a fundamental level. Booth and Brown are masters at creating, adhering to, and developing cohesive sonic palettes, and SIGN is no exception. Amber is characterized by the old school ambient techno 90s WARP artist walking home from a rave as the sun comes up while coming down from whatever psychedelics were taken the night before. Oversteps is almost baroque in the way the duo approaches counterpoint, with clearly delineated instrumentation, akin to Rob and Sean conducting an ensemble. To hear the elegiac tones of si00 and declare it a tired rework of old chillout Autechre is, then, missing the point. The musical DNA of SIGN is informed by the last decade of live jams, the "in-the-box" but surprisingly warm digital sound processing, the quixotic juxtaposition of overwhelmingly synthetic yet deceptively organic, as the heartwrenching melodic line of gr4 would be completely out of place on any Autechre album before this one. And in a way, this is the best summation of SIGN. Only the Sean and Rob of 2020 could create SIGN. They could absolutely hearken back for a nostalgia trip into Amber, or Oversteps, and recreate those sounds deftly and masterfully, but the Autechre of 1994, the Booth and Brown of 2010, neither past duo could even imagine SIGN.



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user ratings (72)
3.5
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
parksungjoon
October 16th 2020


22932 Comments


100 keks

Digging: Slauter Xstroyes - Free the Beast

normaloctagon
October 17th 2020


1742 Comments


Nice

the holy trinity is incunabula amber tri repetae, never cared for anything else they did but I appreciate that they did it regardless I guess

I'll check this out sometime. Your review was a little hard to read for me wanting a pedestrian read because I'm on auto-pilot rn but I can tell your thesis(es) are well constructed and clearly thought out, and you're a talented writer. pos posse

Digging: Loma Prieta - I.V.

Relinquished
October 17th 2020


45707 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great review man

Avagantamos
October 17th 2020


7248 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

One of the great things about Autechre is that any of their albums can be viewed as their "holy trinity." For me those albums are Confield, Draft 7.30 and Untilted. I think SIGN would be more palatable compared to those albums for fans who prefer their earlier output.



gr4 review

Digging: Richard Devine - SYSTIK

Gyromania
October 17th 2020


30935 Comments


Yeah tri repetae is a miracle album for them. Most of their discography is glitchy nonsense. Only other album I could hard recommend is Amber

normaloctagon
October 17th 2020


1742 Comments


hard agree gyromania. the whole suite of 'second' tracks on disc 2 is nuts honestly, SO good

regardless, appreciate your comment Avagantamos. I'll definitely give it a rinse in that case

deathschool
October 17th 2020


26623 Comments


Great review, danielito! Pos.

Digging: William Basinski - Lamentations

hal1ax
October 17th 2020


14866 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

inimitable.



genius.

bloodshy
October 17th 2020


2625 Comments


Yes'd

Digging: The Wytches - Three Mile Ditch

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
October 17th 2020


4442 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nice review Dan. I think you spend a bit too much of it contextualising and explaining what this album doesn't do relative to the rest of ae's discog, so it might not give the the best impression of what the album sounds like to someone who isn't already familiar with them.



Otherwise, pos.

nightbringer
October 17th 2020


1566 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Enjoyed this review. I'd only heard tri repetae before this. I really love this new one. The sounds are so gorgeous. I just got lost listening to this.

parksungjoon
October 17th 2020


22932 Comments


listen to amber and garbage

Relinquished
October 17th 2020


45707 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

and oversteps

zakalwe
October 17th 2020


32074 Comments


A composite snaffling of odds and sods.

Demon of the Fall
October 17th 2020


17381 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Interesting that the ‘early Autechre is better’ brigade can’t stomach LP5. I get that it ups the glitch elements in comparison, but I find it perfectly enjoyable, especially vs stuff like Confield - which is like being relentlessly sodomised by a robot’s appendage.

Digging: Oxbow - The Narcotic Story

danielito19
October 17th 2020


12249 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks for the words y'all. I kind of felt that way too Jac but at the end of the day æ is hard to draw reference points to anything but their own music, you know?

hel9000
Contributing Reviewer
October 17th 2020


817 Comments


Good review, this was really nice on first listen.

Digging: Jesu - Terminus

parksungjoon
October 17th 2020


22932 Comments


æ

Crysis
Emeritus
October 17th 2020


17510 Comments


album cover is the amd ryzen box

parksungjoon
October 17th 2020


22932 Comments


lmæo



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