AUTECHRE: TRI REPETAE (1995)
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" (MP3) on Amazon