Chiastic Slide/Envane

Autechre. Envane
Wap 89CD
1 goz quarter 9.43
2 latent quarter 7.37
3 laughing quarter 7.05
4 draun quarter 10.05

total 35.15
overall, i'm just knocked over by how different each track sounds with multiple listens.

1 goz quarter

love the everpresent scratchyness and distortion which permeates throughout. this is slowly becoming my favorite over 'laughing quarter', i think.

the first half sets the repetitive flavour, with the above-described heartbeating drum loop and more of that hip babble-sample scratching courtesy of gescom. the second half consists of a melancholic synth melody whose cycle is off by one beat; another layer of synth is placed on top of this, and the system grows in intensity with the help of additional clicks and extended synth chords.

synth dies out, and all that left is some more boom.boom and sample scratching.

2 latent quarter

with a military-like start, one can almost picture robot troopers from 2063 marching in sync to the snares and hi-hats. but this only serves as an intro to a more sinister "bahm-boom" marching song, whose beats decay and recover and decay again. we are then treated to a very warm, bass-heavy, tonally flat dub with more noisy clicks, over which the old beats are placed. the warmth decays and synthed woodwinds finish the piece.

3 laughing quarter

relentless in the style of 'clipper', hard beats with forced "laughs" (or what must approximate as such) grab you by the throat and force you to pay to attention. more ae clicks, hoarse gasping: it's almost tough to breathe while listening -- like i'm laughing uncontrollably while a sarcastic, evil court jester works his material on the audience. a very dramatic clicking effect finishes the joker's stand-up routine, and a minute-long loop of harse beats + clicks lets the listener catch his breath. currently, my favorite track: dramatic and engaging, but very repetitive; i'm afraid my loyalities to this song will change as they did with 'clipper' -- i simply was not as affected by the hypnotic beats of clipper after frequent listens . . .

4 draun quarter

an ambient piano set is layered over a very quick bunch of beats. i'm reminded of the breakneck, unselfconscious pace of a city in motion at 5 in the morning, with the sun peeking through a rainstorm here and there. the beats again decay to leave the machine blips and synth is anyone reminded instantly of '2 am on a silo' from Thaemlitz' 'Tranquilizer'? the sad piano and synth chords knock me over by their similarities to 'silo', not only in sonal quality but in mood as well. still, i'm glad that ae put something ambient into their new releases.

Autechre. Chiastic Slide
Warp LP49/CD49

1 cipater
2 rettic ac
3 tewe
4 cichli
5 hub
6 calbruc
7 recury
8 pule
9 nuane

i've always enjoyed each ae release, yet this one was the most challenging to digest. as you will see below, i do recommend this album, but not to first-time ae listeners. i feel that this is an ambitious work of theirs, which cannot be appreciated without considering the nature of their earlier releases.

one definition of the chiastic device follows: "in the story setting, the device of chiasm creates parallel events in a reflection about the central point consisting of an idea common to both." in other words, the chiastic slide is the movement/fusion of two crossing paths of information to yield one ideal message contained (imperfectly) in both. the optic chiasm, for example, takes two 2D, slightly-off center copies of reality and sends them for proper processing in the brain to yield a better 3D impression of reality.

where this ae release leaves their other releases behind is the desire to cross the repetition expected of electronica with the melody expected of almost every other form of western music, the end result being a *unified* piece of music. we don't see this ambition to the same degree with, say, garbage, a very ambient, repetitive work. most of incunabula,on the other hand, is melody-oriented, with the beats playing second fiddle. the quality of each release is not denied, but they are almost monothematic, in a sense, and capture only one aspect of music.

but does ae pull the mix off? i worked my way through each song to try to find a common theme:

starts noisy and chilly, like taking a stroll through a decayed metropolis, "slides" into a 3/4 rolling rhythm which is almost Carribean, like daydreaming yourself at the beach whilst sitting in an urban highrise doing busywork. lovely synth and string work at the end underlines the 'dreamlike' aspect of this piece, while the noisy rhythm just doesn't stop -- always reminding you of the noisy, chaotic reality which you are trying to escape.

rettic ac
jumping into the sea, more of that dreamlike synth blends through the "wash" and noise of the ocean. electronic browning noise loops, and we are left with tweaking of this same noise to leap into . . .

. . . a harpsichord sample hit repeatedly, almost violently, with an ominous, very subtle Celtic melody in the background. spooky synth work and ae-trademark clicks (teeth clattering?) incessantly. a very cold, insane piece that just doesn't let up, with a single rhythmed image repeating over and over with gaining intensity until it decays into rolling synths and bass clicks.

slightly more positive, this picks up in pace and tone, while retaining a shade of Celtic melancholia. harsh beats (in 5/4?) introduce us to a sad melody only hinted at in the background at first, then developed into the core of the piece. more sad synth is brought in with some looped gescomish babble-scratch noodlings.

noise and beats with looped intensity hide what develops into a trek through the sterotypical haunted house -- synthed violin, chimes, and noise stab as you take each suspense-filled step through Bates' motel. i expected rod serling to jump out of the closet at any moment. (i enjoyed being manipulated by this song into thinking about horror movies.)

a piece that reminds me instantly of the acid era of electronic music not too long ago: harsh repetitive beats, soft moog chords that play second fiddle to those same beats. what makes this different is that the beats are slightly off, making it seem like the whole thing is going to fall apart; until ae adds the missing piece, a unit of melody, at which point the whole system locks together and we have the song -- beats drop out and we are left with three ever-so slightly distorted piano notes.

with a wonderful, happy beginning loop and a moving rhythm, the synths again bring a slightly sad shade to the piece, asking: "reflect on what you're listening to; why are you happy?" whooping, mad laughter loops here and there, becoming embodied in the rhythm, alternating with dreamlike synth chords -- this reminds me of the nervous calm euphoria of a drug experience, like i'm almost on the edge of losing it in mad laughter at the slightest provocation. suddenly, it ends and we are left washed in white noise.

noodling of steel drum chords predominate the body of this piece; triplets of the same serve to move the piece along. little percussion (other than the steel drums) to speak of here, violin stabs on the upbeats keep you slightly on guard as to what's coming next, a flute roll to give it an alien feeling. insect clicks at the end, with some chimes. (cicada, anyone?) this is probably the only piece which does not fit with the perceived theme of the album. (incidentally, it is my least favorite track)
playful, noisy drums are offbeat again, with a very suspenseful, tense melody that reminds me instantly of Bladerunner's opening -- a synthed trumpet and piano play notes to match the beats. this song grabs your attention immediately by the way that the beats seem off kilter with the melody (keynell?) -- ae seems to make it work however. the best part is yet to come, however, as halfway through the piece, the looped melody and synth play through the beats, which decay out of the song -- all thats left are two brooding synth chords, and machine-like chimes. suddenly, a muted alarm-like chord jumps in, pulsing, eventually developing into the melody introduced in the first half. more monotonal noise keys in, changing tone and rising in intensity as the melody becomes a wonderful, hypnotic keyboard solo; it eventually dominates the final two minutes of the piece.


with chiastic slide, never before have I heard noise used so dramatically and perfectly -- as if the intent was to use random noise generators to enhance the blending of melody and rhythm, of which both originate from noise. i sense earlier panasonic having influence on this aspect of the album.

listen after listen, i am drawn into how dense the sound is, even considering the subtle nature of nearly every song. there is always something new that i hear each time around. information from "both" channels: melody and percussion, are put together in subtle and wonderful ways. it is not always obvious that both play equal roles in (almost) each song, but the effort and genius are clearly present. after multiple listens, it becomes clear that nearly each track captures the essence of the chiasm in chiastic slide.

if you haven't listened to ae before, i'd recommend that you start with tri repetae, a much more accessible work than chiastic slide. for other ae fans, this requires patience, but you are rewarded with incredibly beautiful and hypnotic music. if you haven't already picked this up, get out there and hunt it down.