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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Autechre: Elseq 2


1) elyc6 0nset; 2) chimer 1-5-1; 3) c7b2.

Okay, most of this second volume (just three tracks in total) is like one gigantic game of Pong, or, rather, two or three games of Pong played at the same time. The first track is 27 minutes long, and the only point of that is to start out fully fleshed out and then gradually shed them sound layers one by one, so that at the end of this sonic striptease we just have a bunch of waves of noise: the balls are gone, but their force fields still remain, and the ripples swing over one another long after their original cause is no longer visible. I think they did this stuff many times before, and it is merely the length of it that is new here — if you derive mystical pleasure from multiple bings, plings, psshts, burps, twirps, clicks, and clucks, be their guest.

On the up side, the first track sounds positively nice, cozy, and melodic when compared to the third track — twice as short, fortunately, but five times as irritating: think all the noisiness of the first volume, but without its sonic power: thirteen minutes of what sounds like a cross between radio static and somebody trying to bore through a concrete wall with a badly dulled and poorly powered electric drill. Some people actually pay money to be tortured by this stuff for no reason whatsoever (most likely, people who have way too much happiness in their everyday life and are looking forward to reduce it by any means possible). Bad news is, there's nothing even remotely innovative about these sounds in 2016, and without the shock factor, this is just dull in every possible manner — emotional or intellectual. And by «dull», I mean «dull as if being slowly cut apart with a very dull blade», that kind of dull.

In between the two, there's a short five minute interlude that arguably provides most of the enter­tainment — a percussion track that sounds as if somebody were furiously bashing his drumsticks on the surface of a thick, boggy marsh, and, appropriately, a synth pattern emulating the incessant croaking of little froggies, hiding somewhere near the surface (although, allegedly, froggies can­not really croak under the water, but I guess everything is possible in the alien worlds of Autech­re). This at least sounds like decent material, idea-wise, for a better developed conceptual track (perhaps they should send it to Björk or something), but little good does it do, sitting crammed there between two silly sonic monsters.

I think I almost like the way that the Pitchfork people tried to describe this volume: "If you ever wondered what it would really mean for Autechre to take an uninhibited plunge into the weirdo void, now you have your answer", they said. Most of the stuff people write about Autechre (and especially people over at Pitchfork) is meaningless and clichéd anyway (and that's not to be taken as an offense — writing something not meaningless about Autechre is almost as hard as explai­ning the Kamasutra to a Mennonite), but I like the "weirdo void" reference. A void is usually supposed to be just a void — there can be no difference between «straight void» and «weirdo void» by definition. Somehow, though, Autechre have often managed, and now they manage it again, to produce a sonic void (in the sense that there's really nothing going on) and justify its existence by the mere fact that they're weirdos. Honestly, this is mostly just annoying filler that is the electronic world's equivalent of Kenny G. Get that? Weirdo void! I am certainly not buying into it just because it's weird (and, actually, it's not even that weird any more — it's simply produced by weirdos, which is a weirdly different weirdness).


  1. Christ... why can't they go back to writing melodies again? I guess that's below them? But even if their 90s output now sounds dated (WTF at such comments IMHO), Oversteps was an incredible and unique piece of work that shows Booth and Brown are capable of composing something forward-thinking, accessible and imaginative that isn't just a load of noisy bollocks.

  2. "Christ... why can't they go back to writing melodies again?"
    Dude, they released a 4-hour album just immediately after people complained that Exai was too long. If anything, elseq is another friendly reminder that THEY are doing the music, not us.