Top positive review
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Warm and eery - autechre at their best.
on 9 July 2012
This album has been a permanent fixture on my playlist for the past six years or so but I've never had the urge to write a review of it until purchasing it as a cd recently, replacing the low bit-rate download I had been enjoying all that time.
By now, you're probably aware that Autechre have a few different sounds - Amber is some of their warmer, more spacial material but still delivers all the duos signature interlacing clicks and rhythms with a good dose of synth.
Its similar to Tri Repetae (another banger) in this regard although it's a bit less aggressive.
The album is extremely listenable, with no surprise tracks consisting of blares of static like one would find on their later material. You can just have it on and enjoy it at any volume. Whenever I listen to Amber, I hear it slightly differently; it's extremely rich and atmospheric both with rhythms and swatheing synth.
What's fascinating about it (as well as Tri Repetae) is that a lot of the tracks seem to occupy different soundstages at once - not just by having different reverbs on various layers but with the pitch changes on each sound. This is Autechre's signature sound and Amber is made of it. The soundscapes are enormous at times but then they seem to expand and contract with their own rhythm and interact with one-another, with cozy crackles and bass that decays into clicks tieing it all together.
The low bit-rate version I first fell in love with all that time ago was good enough on it own merits but it became the only album of theirs that I didn't own on cd, so I grabbed a copy a few months ago and as soon as it came on, you could hear how the whole album just opened-up. This genre of music really benefits from a decent bit-rate, just bumping it up to 320 Kbps will make a world of difference for percussion sounds. A decent pair of headphones will go a long way, as with most music that hasn't been subjected to the noise wars but that is a rabbit hole I'll leave to you to fall down...
Speaking of headphones, one quickly becomes accustomed to hearing Autechre exclusively through them as its not exactly dinner party music but the other day, the album came on at my local climbing centre which has an alright sound system, considering. Hearing it play in a big, open space was interesting as the acoustics of the building seemed to suit the cavernous nature of Amber. It certainly put a smile on the face.
In short, if you don't yet own this album and are a fan of Autechre, you'd be doing yourself a favour getting the cd version and ripping it to a lossless codec to fully hear what this has to offer.