Thursday, February 25, 2010

Review of Autechre "Oversteps"

If there’s one thing I can say about Autechre fans upon hearing their new album Oversteps, and all prior fakes that made their way around the internet, is that they are the most confused and inconsistent bunch of fans in the entire world. I have yet to find a single artist that polarizes even its own fans as much as Autechre. But for awhile, there were at least two major camps; Camp 1 loved everything pre 96, when they were less abstract and more ‘melodic’. Camp 2 loved everything after that, embracing the chaotic abstractness they dove into. Not everyone falls into either of these sides thank god, and I tend to think the most ‘true’ fans can appreciate them as a whole. For awhile, the two sides seemed to make sense. But in true Ae fashion, Oversteps once again confuses an already confused bunch of listeners.

As a fan of Autechre myself, allow me to explain the ‘confusion’ bit: As with most albums released by this duo, there comes a time where fake album leaks are inevitable. For the most part, it is largely single tracks that are sometimes just small snippets, and they make rounds for a bit until they are proven to be fake. Some are prominent, fairly widespread, but something very bizarre happened when Oversteps supposedly leaked. The leak, which was obviously fake, was listened to by a staggering amount of people. Even more bizarre: some of these people were claiming it was 100% without a doubt, genuine. Fans of this group, who have claimed to be fans for ages, who felt like they deeply understood Autechre and knew everything about them, were sincerely claiming this fake to be completely real, utterly legit. So if that wasn’t already confusing enough, Autechre decide to throw yet another curveball, albeit it not in the way anyone ever imagined; this is the single most melodic Autechre album ever produced. It’s also the most ambient. No longer can Amber fans say they want them to return to melody. Not only that, but it’s incredibly bright, vibrant and at times, playful, similar to Plaid, even Aphex Twin.

So is this album good? I would say yes, very much so. Some will say no. Despite its obvious melodic bent, I feel it sacrifices absolutely none of the qualities that make them good in the first place, and this is painfully clear. The misconception of Autechre being futurist masters of all things technological is burned into the heads of far too many people. So much of mid-to-late 90s had this boundary pushing idealism and they were the poster boys for that, and I can guarantee you it was not their intention. Despite the chronological shifts, every album has contained traces of their personal, unique touch, and this album is no different. It’s singular focused yet amazingly clear compared to much of their work, it’s very free and open without a pretense of moodiness that bogs some Autechre down. They’ve written some of the most tuneful, engaging melodies of their entire career, something that would attract ‘many’ instead of ‘few’. Then again it’s personal taste here, not all the melodies here will appeal to everyone, and that is completely fair.

Some people feel that they went off the boil when Untilted was released, but I don’t really think so. Their back catalogue is not bullet proof, nobody ever agrees on anything, and fans endless assumption that they are intent on pushing the envelope is skewed. And if you have hardcore Autechre fans claiming a fake is legit, can you honestly listen to anyone? Time will tell how it holds up, but as I listen to this I can’t help but feel Autechre has made one of their best releases to this date. It is completely unapologetic in its vision, abstract or no, just like all the best Autechre albums.


Sunday, February 07, 2010

Autechre Oversteps

"As far as my personal version of Autechre goes, this – now, then, next - is exactly where they belong, at this end of various stories that exist because of a number of cultural, technological, political, ideological, social and musical changes that took place during the 20th century, some of them heating up as the 20th took a turn for the 21st century, some of them slowing down and thwarted, some of them spiralling out of control, some just moving forward following their own glorious, imperturbable momentum. Autechre take their rightful advanced place in various histories of music that have formed in my mind, following, part of, involved with, on one hand something that was known as serialism, which fell through radio, tape and edits into musique concrete, which resulted in the relief of what was known as minimalism, which puts them on the quiet, eternal shores of Morton Feldman, Arvo Part and LaMonte Young, and then they draw from the immense results achieved by Can, Kraftwerk and Eno in using exploratory electronic means to sensitively generate sadness, sensation and sensuality, and a whole host of abstract surprise, and they filter earvisions of Xenakis, Stockhausen and Varese through a privately cultivated handmade machine-smart post-hip hop sensibility. They make the music that has responded the most accurately and inquisitively to the uncompromising strangeness and unsettling changes of the times."

Paul Morley on Autechre

OVERSTEPS out in March on WARP

I've heard it, and it's amazing.


My watermarked promo from WARP NYC office.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


I'm taking proper installation shots of the group show this week. Images forthcoming...