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A furrowed brow of pretentious noise that in truth, is only valuable to undiscerning fans of the band
on 6 September 2015
Autechre are a strange duo. No, really. Hear me out. They started off writing some glistening, electro-influenced electronica, back when it didn't make you feel dirty to refer to the Warp catalogue as IDM. Their first two albums "Incunabula" and "Amber" are perfectly formed slices of head-music with a dance-floor sensibility, if not a dance-floor suitability.
Then they slowly and deliberately - ahem - warped themselves into a harder-edged pairing, increasingly less interested in pleasing their listener, and far more interested in alienating themselves with clanging metallic loops, off-kilter rhythms, and less melody than the average building site. Their's were a furrowed brow, intent on not doing what anyone else was doing, releasing seriously damaged sounding noise-scapes that somehow still managed to gain a fan base of equal intensity despite not really being - well, particularly listeneable.
I like the stuff they do, but do I miss the simple choons and melodies of the early days. I make no apology for the fact that every time I purchase a new Autechre album I'm hoping to hear something akin to the sweetness and oddity of the Amber days. They nearly did so with the lovely Oversteps, the album released prior to Exai. So that was okay then.
Exai then. Exai is - well it's noise. Clanging, whirbling, slonging, jiggling, improvisatory sounding noise that somehow all manages to seem relatively coherent, even manages to make sense of a kind, at least in context. What that context is, I'm still trying to understand. I've no doubt I'll be told at some point when I bring this up that, it's just who Autechre are - you're either on board or you're not.
But I've been on board since the beginning and I kind of what something from them that I just don't think they're capable of giving anymore : a s***.
Here's the thing - it's a double cd set of this noise. It makes NO attempts to pander to it's audience. It's oppressively odd. It just works away, whether you're listening to it or not, whether you understand it or not, whether you care or not. It just "is." And that's fine but problematic because at some point when I personally listen to music, I want to feel engaged. And this isn't interested in engaging you. Yes, it's a puzzle, but it's too much of a puzzle and at the end of the day it's exhausting trying to solve it which begs the question - why bother.
Which is why it's the least listened of all Autechre's cds in my collection. I just don't care about it, and it doesn't seem to care about me. I have realised I'm only buying these albums out of fan loyalty. It's the Autechre album that has made me decide not to purchase any more.
I just don't think it's worth it, and if I'm being honest, all hyperbole and hype aside about this album, the music just isn't interesting enough to listen to more than once.
A disappointment, but probably only a personal one.