Review : Autechre - Move of Ten
PitchforkIt's not unusual for Autechre to go a couple of years between full-lengths. So two in the span of a couple of months-- Sean Booth and Rob Brown have never released two Autechre albums in a single year-- is a pretty big deal. Why the quick follow-up to Oversteps? From the sound of these two records, it seems possible that Booth and Brown generated a large batch of material in the two years since Quaristice and decided to split it into complementary records, each with a different focus. While Oversteps had a number of drifting, ambient pieces mixed in with rhythm-oriented tracks that at times nodded toward dubstep, Move of Ten puts its emphasis on sharp beats that mostly stay within conventional meters. With these two records following on the more variable Quaristice, an album of shorter tracks that seemed to touch on almost every sound they've ever tried, that makes three pretty different albums in a row for Autechre, which is encouraging.
I say "pretty different" because we're not talking about records that sound like they could have come from completely different artists. Even if the title of opening track "Etchogon-S" didn't clue you in to who we're dealing with, the skittering half-broken beat and sharp synth stabs that verge on sounding random would do the trick. The track almost seems designed to inspire a "Yep, sounds like Autechre" sigh from its first few seconds, which isn't going to bring back anyone who tuned out somewhere around the time of 2001's Confield. Autechre have fiercely loyal fans who look forward to whatever they do next, but my sense is that they used to attract a lot more of the merely curious than they do now. And for those who followed along for a record or two a decade ago before finding more pleasure in something like, say, Four Tet, there's little here to bring them back in the fold. Autechre still specialize in dense, complicated, and texturally rich sounds that upend ideas of what music might be. Word that they are continuing these experiments while bringing 4/4 beats into the mix won't be enough for most.
But for those who want to give them another try, this is the most forceful Autechre record in a while. Their beats are stripped down and hit a little harder, and their skewed takes on the dance music that first brought them to this music-- techno and especially electro-- are convincing. Autechre's love of electro and the production of old school hip-hop producer Kurtis Mantronik in particular has been a steady source of inspiration since their inception. When you listen to Mantronik's productions for Mantronix or rapper Just-Ice, you get a sense of just what Autechre heard in his music: The sharp crack of the era's drum machines and the wild stabs of synth both sound very 80s and also like another era's interpretation of the future. They also sound like brilliant examples of urban culture using discarded bits of its past to look toward the future....full text
DrownedinsoundOne thing I’ve always loved about Autechre has been their modest insistence on remaining tied to their dance music lineage. Not for Sean Booth and Rob Brown the temptation to lose the physical plot entirely in favour of total abstraction; even at their most oblique, during the ‘are you sure your stereo’s not on the blink?’ beatscapes of Confield or the shattered rhythms of Untilted, they retain an intrinsic sense of funk. That certainly tends to show up most obviously during their live sets, when the debt to old-school electro and hip-hop so prominent on Amber is chewed up and spat out as a series of monochrome glitch grooves. But their most recent two records have also proved something of a return to the spontaneity of old, before the algorithms and intense programming obsessions took over. Quaristice, from 2008, was fulfilling in the light of its renewed interest in human connection, with a set of tracks that spliced surprisingly accessible melodic textures back in. That said, in light of this year’s wonderful Oversteps it felt more like a series of study sketches to that record’s full colour vista. In particular ‘ilanders’ could almost have been a mid-period Drexciya cut, such is its cool aquatic grandeur.
So their second album this year – putting paid, I suppose, to the notion of Autechre as austere mad scientists who spend hours tweaking filters for the perfect snare – very much continues where the last left off, finding the duo in a playfully upbeat mode. And Move of Ten is an album really; for all the talk of its EP status, it’s a good 50-minute listen. In a lot of ways, despite each one’s insular charms, it’s nigh on impossible not to discuss a new Autechre record in light of their previous work – there’s a lot of ground to cover, after all. So it’s helpful that Move of Ten feels every inch a companion work to Oversteps. It certainly validates comparison in a way that a record made in the early Nineties doesn’t. It’s the yang to that record’s yin, and frequently ramps up the slower pace to impressive speed while retaining its curious grasp of emotive dynamics. Opener ‘Etchogon-S’ could almost, if you could squint your ears, be a proto-jungle track, with a tricksy skanking rhythm that jerks back and forth like a dancer in the midst of delirious rapture, and both ‘y7’ and the streetlamp flashes of ‘M62’ are driven by four-to-the-floor techno beats. There’s nary a hint of the extended interludes of keening ambience and insectoid clicks that defined much of their mid-period work....full text
ThemilkfactoryIt’s been barely a matter of a few months since Autechre released Oversteps, an album on which Sean Booth and Rob Brown greatly expended on the melodic aspect of their work, a move that was started with Quaristice two years earlier. Move Of Ten is a different beast altogether. Darker, grittier, nastier, more angular, this EP drags Oversteps down into the gutter and purposely tarnishes its sheen. Although an EP, at least in Warp’s catalogue referencing, Move Of Ten clocks in at close to forty eight minutes, and ten tracks. Not quite as extensive as EP7, but a pretty densely packed release all the same
After a few years when releases were increasingly few and far between, it seems as if Autechre have entered a more prolific era in recent years. First, there was Quaristice, in all its versions, then a fairly extensive tour, and two year on, came Oversteps, quickly followed by this sister EP. This surge of releases has coincided with a return to more melodic forms, and this still characterises Move Of Ten, but these are given a very different treatment here. Beats are often rawer, sounds sharper and more abrasive, with occasional industrial textures thrown in, which, right from Etchogon-S, taint this record. With its heavy, syncopated kick drum, acid squelches, and recurring train horn echoed by dissonant chords, pce freeze 2.8i is at once oppressive and hypnotic, its highly mechanical aspect rendered a tad warmer by what sounds like occasional vocal outbursts, although whether these are truly human or entirely artificial remains a mystery.
Later, nth Dafuseder.b finds Autechre in rather forceful mood, although here, the pair swap fairly minimal backdrop for widescreen reverbs, something which continues on iris was a pupil, which follows, although here, like on y7 earlier, or no border later on, Autechre adopt a resolutely lighter approach, close to that found on Oversteps. Echoing the beat-driven nth Dafuseder.b, M62, propelled by a stripped down linear beat and almost ambient electronic textures, is perhaps the closest Autechre will ever get to classic Detroit techno. The pace slows down quite drastically on the oddly jazzy ylm0, with its sweeping arpeggio and odd chord progression, but with Cep puiqMX, which closes, Autechre plunge once again deep into murky abstract waters as they work a groove from what sounds like amplified statics into a dense and eerie pulsating soundscape....full text
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