Friday, 15 November 2013

Autechre - L-Event


With the release of Exai in the first quarter of this year, Autechre cemented their status as one of the World's most revolutionary yet exciting electronics acts of the 21st century. For a pair of machine tinkerers and hip-hop enthusiasts of the early 90's, the seizing of the throne has been gradual but a deserving one. And to lie almost slap-bang in the middle of the 10's two decades on with the Rochdale duo still fighting on, the crowning achievement in their discography this year only exemplifies how untouchable Autechre's craft can be at times. Not that EP's released shortly after a studio album are anything new, but there's always been more a heightened level of mystery and curiosity about Autechre's extended plays. For a duo who have released EP's well in excess of the format's typical recording length and some surpassing even two hours in duration, the focus seems to demand a level of intrigue on the delivery and the conext of the duo's sound, more-so than typically standardized elements such as number of tracks or individual track lengths. 

In the case of L-Event, four pieces lay before us in a fashionably-Autechre string of unpronounceable names and syllables automatically insinuating a challenge, in some manner of degree, is immient. But more importantly - as its LP sibling allowed to speak up for - it finds Booth & Brown stretching what is already a remarkable feat of idea-development in reahciung even further in the realm of both technical and melodic ingenuity. Tac Lacora, with its bending, thickly viscous synthesizers and sub-bass certainly alludes to the idea that Autechre's latest outing was no mere fluke. And neither was it a stage which forced itself to be as lengthy and daring as it appeared, as the track's warping electronics and curling, contorting bass hold as much the same energy, if not more, than what Autechre have previously unloaded on the listener's perception in the past. M39 Diffain takes the opposite approach and treats its instruments like play doh or plasticine - pressing and pushing the mix of scattering percussion and swelling drone into differing shapes that the listener becomes almost trapped, as if caught in this gaumed shape. And while the track changes in the second half to more rhythmic - albeit in the context of Autechre's sound as shifting to tackling factors such as timing and layer positioning - adjustments, there's enough of a personality and flair to how these sounds interract with one another in the midst of the duo's musical, mechanical melting pot.

Osla for n continues the dial-turning transition back to focusing on rhythm with sounds that react a lot more deeper and reactive to the listener's senses - the track's initial distorted percussion sounds and the contrast it strikes with its counterparts giving me the general semantic visage of a vaccuum or a surrounding almost devoid of oxygen...or air...or perhaps becoming so dysfunctional as a result of such a drastic lacking. There's less development in this track, yet there doesn't need to be - the pictures I project and the senses I often try not to get too connected to (I feel at times like my lungs could compress so dangerously inwards) brilliantly fill the space left by the track's avoidance on increasing its content. Eventually, the background percussion increase and they begin balancing out the dominance of the once frontal layers, but the effect on my imagination - and more-so my respiration-based organs - is never lost. Newbound unfortunately, while still conjuring some interesting contrasts between the punchy, crisp beats and the consuming wobble of drone, whimpers the closing offer with a less-captivating flow and melody. Even when taken in accordance with the catalog (yes, all of it) of extended plays, the track in itself feels much like a step back or an indecisive middle-of-the-road than anything additional or extensive to where Autechre currently are.

But given the experimental tendencies and often mysterious ways Autechre seem to work under - even after two decades in the electronic spotlight - it's safe to proclaim L-Event as much a credible example that even if EP's remain an optional fancy for fans as opposed to a crucial look-into for everyone else included, Autechre continue to stand at the top of the game, and in some way, at the top of countless others'. Cue my taking back of an initial comment in my album review declaring undeniable satisfaction of a gracious bow should Exai be the final act for this Rochdale duo; should L-Event be the encore, then there's little to hold against them. 2013 woke some at long last up to Autechre's genius, but more-so those whom believed age was some drowning deteroant on creativity. We'll roll onto next year wondering as we always do, but no matter what happens, this is one more refreshing, enticing...and at times, frightening entry into a catalog already riding strong.
~Jordan Helm

7.6

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