AUTECHRE: MOVE OF TEN (2010)
1) Etchogon-S; 2) y7; 3) pce freeze 2.8i; 4) rew(1); 5) nth Dafuseder.b; 6) iris was a pupil; 7) no border; 8) M62; 9) ylm0; 10) Cep puiqMX.
Okay, the good news is that, even if Oversteps and Move Of Ten were released within months of each other (technically, the latter is counted as an EP, because it «only» runs for... fourty-seven minutes? yeah, fairly short, only the size of two average early Beach Boys LPs), they sound fairly different, and each one is impressive in its own way. The people at Pitchfork preferred to define the difference quite formally — pointing out that Oversteps is more ambience-oriented, whereas Move Of Ten is more sharply beat-focused. That may be so, but it does not really capture the difference in sensations.
I would rather say that Move Of Ten is a «spooky» counterpart to the Big Unnerving Clock of Oversteps. We are not just back to the beats, we are back to the icy, snapping beats, the frosty synths, the freezing white noise — the old sights of the Autechre factory working at below zero temperatures, where each movement of the robot begins with breaking the thin crust of ice that re-forms every five seconds. Only this time the sound is mastered in a way that places you, the listener, somewhere above that factory — as if it were completely ensconced in some underground cavern, and you were trying to dig your way in from the top.
The exact technical means to ensure this echoey, cavernous sound are a mystery to me (ask a technician), but they were hardly accessible to Autechre in the 1990s — whoever claims that all Autechre sounds the same (not an unreasonable claim, but depends on the coarseness of your grain, of course) should go back to Tri Repetae and see how far they have progressed in that respect. Whether there is any substantial difference in the structure of the beats and the texture of the melodic patterns is another matter.
There does seem to be an evil, aggressive side to Move Of Ten that you do not often encounter on Autechre albums — for instance, ʽrew(1)ʼ is almost funky in its progression, with twisted, distorted bleeps snapping at you from under cover, making it one of the «nastiest» tunes in the entire repertoire of the duo. On stuff like ʽiris was a pupilʼ (hey, some real words!) the dark side is more subdued, reduced to several overdubs of murmuring wave patterns expressing situational discontent with each other. But the evil presence is felt everywhere, as if, finally, all of Autechre's microchips were learning their basic emotions.
Which might be timely enough — if the idea here is to start elevating the consciousness of the musical AI these guys had been developed for twenty years now, I'm all for it, not only because it provides them with a bit of reason for further existence, but also because it might eventually convince me and other sceptics that electronic music has not gone the way of rock'n'roll, but still holds the key to the future. The important thing is to keep on bridging the gap between the human and the robot, and that might take some time. As for now, thumbs up for this one more tiny step for mankind, giant leap for monolithic integrated circuit.
Check "Move Of Ten" (MP3) on Amazon