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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Autechre: Tri Repetae


1) Dael; 2) Clipper; 3) Leterel; 4) Rotar; 5) Stud; 6) Eutow; 7) C/Pach; 8) Gnit; 9) Overand; 10) Rsdio.

This is where it all changes. Love Tri Repetae or hate Tri Repetae, this is where Autechre be­comes a thing-in-itself, so that comparisons with Aphex Twin and other electronic greats become shallow and meaningless. Not that Tri Repetae cannot be derived from Amber. It can. You just have to subtract «minimal keyboard melody» from the equation and replace it with... say, «amp­lified transistor noises and radiowaves». Yeah, that could do the job.

Moody keyboard sounds have survived the slaughter in a few patches here and there, but not with­out mutating themselves — ʽEutowʼ begins with an onslaught of looped synth strings that re­calls the old times, but once the percussive rhythms join the fray, the strings are deconstructed, with each loop ending in a «nervous meltdown» that kicks your ears off the path they'd like to follow. And on ʽOverandʼ, frequencies of the notes are manipulated in such a way that the effect goes way past regular «ambient» — listening to this in headphones might yield the feeling that these waves are emitted directly by your own brain.

But neither of these two tracks is typical of the album's overall sound, the major inspiration be­tween which seems to have been hours of happy listening to hoarse radio static — which Booth and Brown decided to tame, subdue, and control in about the same way that Jimi Hendrix once decided to tame, subdue, and control guitar feedback. The process reaches its culmination in the ten minutes of the last track — whose pseudo-accidentally misspelled title leaves little space for doubt — but really, the whole record is permeated with the idea. Hiss, pop, crackle, and some sub­ato­mic-level bleep-and-whistle for good measure rule the day on Tri Repetae. Yet this is not sheer «noise» for the sake of noise — this is rhythmic noise, patterned noise, and, occasionally, even «melodic» noise, although it takes a little risk and bravery to arrive at that conclusion.

The ice factory is all but gone; to get that effect, Autechre would require a bit more banging and clanging, not to mention all the freezy keyboard parts. The percussive rhythms still lock together according to the laws of industrial music, but now they seem to belong to the world of microchips and miniaturization, not that of giant synthetic structures rising miles high into the sky. Getting some sort of «emotional high» from this experience is, most likely, out of the question; rather, one should try combining it with reading a Stephen Hawking book — who knows, it might better attune the brain to grasping the essence of the universe or something.

The microchips do exhibit different ways of behavior, though. On ʽDaelʼ, they fuss and grumble, imitating busy activity. On ʽLeterelʼ, they slowly hiss and punch, in a state of relative relaxation. On ʽStudʼ, they hustle and bustle almost in some sort of state of electronic tenderness. On ʽGnitʼ, they communicate with each other; and on ʽRsdioʼ, they sound dying — tossed in a garbage heap, gradually losing their last bits of charge. A sad story, really, if you agree to look at it that way; and I cannot think of any other way if I am to hope that an album like Tri Repetae can actually pique somebody's interest.

Of course, the greatest irony is that, in our completely electronified age, Tri Repetae should have been its major anthemic soundtrack — yet the same people who can no longer imagine their life without electronic devices would rarely agree to make their daily soundtrack include any of this «nano-music»: even the regular listeners of «electronica» will generally prefer something more straightforward — in the world of rave, techno, and IDM, Tri Repetae occupies the place of Jackson Pollock in the world of painting art. But, just like Pollock's paintings, the album is here mostly so that we could ask interesting questions, and then select from a range of equally unsatis­fying answers for as long a period of time as we have available to kill.

Check "Tri Repetae" (CD) on Amazon
Check "Tri Repetae" (MP3) on Amazon


  1. In twenty years' time, radio will probably be almost completely replaced with digital reception, which (as far as I know) contains no static whatsoever. So this release is destined for a status as a historical curio, in much the same way Blue Cheer's tsunami of amp feedback now sounds quaint to IDM listeners. The transition is emblematic of the shift from the industrial to the digital age.

  2. Wait. You claim this is the best Autechre album on your old site (and give it a 12), and here you claim it's subjectively inferior to Incanabula? Get your spit together, man! Opinions aren't supposed to change, this is a STABLE WORLD!

  3. This sounds interesting - I like strange ambient/electronic stuff (it will be interesting to see you eventually review Sunn O))), George), so I shall preview this on iTunes.


    Yeah, I could get into this. Thanks for once again introducing me to a new band I like!

  4. Good to see you getting on the Ae horse again. These reviews are a lot better than the ones on your old site which to be honest kind of sucked; like 'em or not keep in mind that there are fans that have heard of Vangelis and Schulze and T. Dream and Kraftwerk (of course!) and know that what Ae do is really a lot different than those guys (from Amber forward, that is) and the whole attitude of "Booth and Brown may not really know what they're doing/fans like the idea of being a fan more than the music" was pretty insulting. Once you start really hearing this stuff - they don't meet you halfway, you have to get a good system, you have to really pay attention - but it's clear that everything they do is deliberate. Doesn't mean they're infallable (I agree that Chiastic Slide kinda sucks) but it really takes focus to figure out how the dozen or so disparate elements that make up a track really interact.