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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Autechre: NTS Session 3


1) clustro casual; 2) splesh; 3) tt1pd; 4) acid mwan idle; 5) fLh; 6) glos ceramic; 7) g1 e1; 8) ninefly; 9) shimripl air; 10) icari.

General verdict: More of the same old: this oneʼs largely for all fans of digital balls clanging against each other.

With this third session, the downward slide continues: it has even less of a personal identity than the second one, and most of the tracks intuitively feel like unnecessary variations on ideas that have already been presented in better form. So, instead of trying to come up with generalisations that might sound pompous and mean jackshit, let me just make a few brief comments on the individual tracks here:

ʽclustro casualʼ — eleven minutes of busting particles in a small electrified container, with traces of bass rhythmics and synthesized ambience; the track outlives its coolness by the end of the second minute. ʽspleshʼ — nine minutes of Pong in a deep underground cavern; at least there are occasional new players with originally sounding balls joining the game from time to time, so the nine minutes are not a complete waste. ʽtt1pdʼ — twenty-two minutes of crackling electricity and humming wires, almost scary in a few places where the overdubbing gets out of hand, but it takes a LONG time to get to those places from anywhere. ʽacid mwan idleʼ — twelve minutes of a complex, but single, repetitive pulse that may be their idea of an automatically generated alien SOS; in any case, believing in that interpretation and getting in that game might be the only way you could actually enjoy all twelve minutes of it.

ʽfLhʼ: now this here is one track that I really like. It almost seems attached to a basic 4/4 tempo (though the groove is actually skewed), against which the electronic pulses engage in complex twisted patterns in a King Crimson-type manner. The tempo / melody combination seems fairly unusual for Autechre, and the slight subtle tone changes of the pulses from beginning to end are fun to trace. Lighter and less typical than everything else on here, although the trackʼs special qualities will inevitably get lost in this ocean of sound.

Moving on, ʽglos ceramicʼ is thirteen more minutes of humming electric wires, although midway through they change direction and the track becomes more industrial in nature, with jackhammer percussion a-plenty, and the humming largely replaced by clanging. The change is curious, but it only happens once, and I would rather go back to my Einstürzende Neubauten records than relisten to the second half again anyway. ʽg 1 e 1ʼ is another slightly unusual track that may or may not show some Fripp/Eno influence, beginning with a minimalist «piano» melody and then transitioning into an extended avantgarde «guitar solo» (or maybe «bagpipe solo», whichever analogy you find closest) — another relative standout that does not at least remind me of any of those guysʼ past glories.

The last three tracks, however, are a borefest. ʽnineFlyʼ is ten more minutes of Pong, only this time with the actual sound of the ball hitting the wall taken out and only the echoes of its trajec­tories audible to us victims. ʽshimripl airʼ is sevn minutes of symbolic ambience — symbolic, because the sound is barely audible; it is like a musical picture of a silent stream of air that actually tries to portray it realistically — not the most interesting audio experience, believe me. Finally, ʽicariʼ is... guess what, twenty more minutes of Pong, albeit with slightly more complex trajectories than before.

As you can see, occasional fresh ideas are still popping through on occasion (ʽfLhʼ and ʽg1 e1ʼ in particular, though I have seen several fans dismiss ʽg1 e1ʼ as something too «un-Autechre», which is probably why I singled out and liked the track), but mostly it just continues to seem that the inspiration / innovation / careful pre-planning were largely spent on the first two hours, and now the boys are largely back on autopilot.

1 comment:

  1. Shimripl is beautiful. Angels accompanying you with immense love, friendship and grace through the clouds. Massive
    stone slabs slide apart as if they weigh nothing, ushering you into the highest echelons of heaven.
    Shimripl also began reminding me of a dream I had a long time ago about a vast wall that extended as far as the eye could see. It felt ancient, covered in vines and with small red birds swooping around.
    Certain structures, hedges, trellises and the like have since caught my eye, reminding me of the dream. But nothing has come as close as Shimripl in conjuring up this specific dream image.