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4.0 out of 5 stars
In my day they had tunes, you know..., 9 April 2003
Unpronounceable track titles, cold computer-generated cover art, neighbour-perturbing synthetic noises... Autechre are back! Their last album (Confield) and single (Gantz_Graf) had them moving even further away from highfalutin armchair dance to... uh... this: a collection of skeletal abstractions largely bereft of tunes, of regular rhythms, indeed of any familiar reference points. Echoes of drum and bass or trance may be found, but one feels they are examples of convergent evolution rather than a deliberate acknowledgement of these other club cousins. Any melody is attacked by aggressive filters or startling, prominent beats; these beats refuse to remain constant, metamorphosing into epileptic spasms.
With hindsight this change of style seems as natural as Mondrian's trees becoming grids. And the results are similarly controlled, balanced and austerely beautiful. Any humour, any anger crystallizes into elegant, emotionless architecture. The only flaw is that the mind and ear become tired after over an hour of these mechanical essays in the astonishing possibilities of artificial sound.
An excellent album, an outstanding work of Autechre's, but history will have to decide if it is an important addition to electronic music (or any music), or a curious remnant lying in the wake of dance.