1.'EP7' by Alex Reynolds from Grooves Magazine
The smoky plastic cover to Autechre's EP7 obscures the fossilized remains of various Lsystems, or fractals, each describing a set of rules that govern the iterated "growth" of a string of letters, or plant cells, or whatever is being modeled over a series of generations. Errors are thrown in every few turns so as to tune the work's obvious synthetic appearance, to make its overall growth appear more natural, more organic.
Even with the random distractions, however, your eye will readily pick up patterns at various levels within the "organism", depending on whether you focus in on, say, one of its limbs as opposed to its body, or vice versa. Booth and Brown journey further into the wilderness explored in LP5, exploring complex, and sometimes randomized patterns at different levels. By hiding rhythms within rhythms, each of wildly dynamic time signatures and structures, the listener must either decide to hunt out individual complexities, or attempt to grasp the larger structure of a track as a whole.
Loss of control over sound -- the listener's fight to resolve
details and patterns to reach understanding, as well as Autechre's own
struggle to control the birth, growth and death of its sound to impart this meaning to the listener -- is key to EP7.
The indecipherable 'ccec' features a jabbering speed freak who
drops syllables, losing grasp of speech to the rhythms around him.
'Squeller's beats slowly mutate into a complex, unmanageable structure that must be faded, in order to satisfactorily conclude the track. 'maphive 6.1' -- my favorite piece -- drops rolling kettledrums into the subtle melody of a playful but misbehaving piano. You can almost envision this naughty piano winking at the musicians as it goes in and out of tune. The oddly titled 'zeiss contarex' features puzzled fragments of a BBC announcer's voice attempting to fight through a thick blanket of sinister melody.
Did Autechre lose control with EP7? I think so, but the loss is
intentional and used to good effect -- Ae maintains enough restraint where needed to keep the narrative flowing. The release is comparable with the more experimental projects of the Gescom style, so much so that EP7 has already suffered the wrath of fans that pined for a release in the oft-imitated Incunabula-Amber-Tri Repetae vein. The closing track -- normally intended to finish an Autechre
album with a dramatic flourish -- is oddly enough both a mournful and
optimistic finale. Through 'pir', Booth and Brown reminisce on the creative paths they have voyaged in the past, but look forward to what is to come, to the next chance to bring wonder, sadness, brilliance and beauty into the world.
2.'EP7' by Cameron Kopeck from emptiness.net
The debate is constantly ensuing, does on prefer the older, more linear sound of Autechre, or the newer disjointed material. For the longest time I found myself of the former category, writing off LP5 as a bunch of pretty sounds and nothing more. But now with the advent of this 11 track fuller than full length "ep", I've started to appreciate the newer sound of the band as well. Autechre are truly unique in that they craft a brand of music that rarely can be assigned any sort of genre tag. Ep 7 is a tangled web of disjointed beats, in the distance melodies and barely there songs structures. What Autechre do better than most of there peers is they find a way to wrench out very alien sounds out of ordinary and older pieces of gear that most find archaic. The new ep is really nothing drastically different from LP5, other than a noticeably slowed down tempo.
I highly suggest you investigate this new offering from the true prodigies of "electronica", as it will be the most worthwhile ep you most likely ever will buy.
3.'EP7' by Cyrille Garcia from Plume Noire
New release from the Sheffield duo without one forseeable hit single, hardly any promotion, and even so...
The music of AUTECHRE is deserved and and must be waited for. Heavy and oppressive rhythms, long slopes of ambiances, this duo never searches for ease.
Faithful to a certain musical school that attempts to be extreme and accessible, the terrorists of sound will certainly never know great public success as the sum of their music production, and in particular on ep7, does not subscribe to usual commercial format.
Far from the Dancefloor, radio, and hyper commercial media, AUTECHRE affirms that it's THE major group of the international techno scene: not for the number of hits produced, but rather for the integrity, sincerity, and the quality of its approach. Just as many groups of the 80's whose names are frequently cited in the 90's, AUTECHRE will mark its era, their influence already being felt on a part of the current electronic music scene: closer to, say, early New Order than Daft Punk.
What else can be said? The album is perfect but frankly undescribable, for once. Fans of honest and subtle music, don't just throw yourselves over ep7, but also over everything that AUTECHRE has dreamed up for you (from the tremendous ANTIep or the surprising John PEEL sessions).
YOU WILL UNDERSTAND.
4.'EP7' by Dave Looby from CDNOW
Fame and freshness are often two conflicting issues for contemporary musicians. Look no further than Fugazi to see a band that risked alienating a legion of fans to keep their music from dragging them into the stagnant pool of '90s punk.
Autechre strive forth in a similar, albeit electronic manner: Just because you loved one album doesn't mean that you'll even recognize their next. EP7, an 11-track, hour-long outing finds the Manchester duo of Sean Booth and Rob Brown knee-deep in a wash of electro foundations, airy keyboard ticklings and stutter-step breakbeats.
A notable departure from its last studio album, EP7 foregoes the melodic ambience of Autechre in favor of a more mechanical progression. While tracks like "Squeller" and "Pir" may be reminiscent of the recent past, they stand out because their melodies are only partially subjugated by the otherworldly rhythms that define this disc. "CCEQ" sets the pace early on, with a gibberish vocal that reduces the music to background effects, and "Netlon Sentinel" has an abrasiveness that wouldn't feel out of place on a Frontline Assembly album.
Fans of Autechre have come to expect evolution as a part of the music, and so will find EP7 a positive step forward. But some may find it more difficult listening, and for new audiences it may not be the best place to start exploring Autechre's dynamic legacy.
5.'EP7' by Earnest Ball from Armchair DJ
Back when I didn't know anything about it, I used to think all "intelligent dance music" sounded the same. Then, after investing a lot of my time and money in the back catalogs of labels like Warp and Rephlex, I became a fervent missionary of the IDM cause. I pontificated to my friends about the difference between your Plaids and your Plones, wrote scholarly theses about the mystic imagery of The Black Dog, and scoured eBay night after night looking for that last limited-edition AFX 12-inch to complete my collection. But several years into my intelligent techno phase, I'm slowly coming back around to my original position: This shit all sounds the same.
I came to this conclusion after spending two months trying to penetrate the new Autechre outing. Producers Sean Booth and Rob Brown are elder statesmen of the scene, but their work has never really spoken to me. An Autechre track is like a musical Mad Lib; it's as if these guys have a bunch of templates and a bunch of categories of sound and they fill in the blanks with gleefully arbitrary abandon. Choose a weird rhythm track from column A ... a synth refrain from column B ... a machine malfunction from column C ... and so on. The incongruous results sound wacky, perhaps profound, when compared to your average pop or even techno track. But listen to a dozen of these compositions back to back and they sound just as formulaic as anything else. What at first seems strange quickly becomes prosaic.
That said, the careful listener can discern differences from one Autechre disc to the next. The rhythms on the new "EP7," for instance, are more abstract than on last year's "LP5." The oft-used adjective "fractured" doesn't do these beats justice, for it implies that they are actual drum patters that have been abused in some fashion. These rhythms sound like they were assembled on the fly, from spare sonic parts and random samples. This extreme irregularity erases even the vaguest hint of dancefloor utility, resulting in a more contemplative sound than on the electro-tinged "LP5." The cheap, distressed keyboards are still in effect, though, along with a virtual chorus of subliminal voices gibbering into the ether. If you're a passionate devotee of the group or the genre, then "EP7" probably won't disappoint you. But from where I'm sitting, it looks like the endless possibilities of digital sound have been reduced to just so many tools for musical masturbation.
6.'EP7' by Jason Ferguson from MTV
If nothing else, the English electronic duo Autechre is a prolific one. And, unlike most prolific artists, Autechre doesn't just produce piece after piece of similar-sounding work. Everything they release seems radically different from the previous release... if not from all other music altogether. Everything seems a tangential exploration of sound with no anchor to the past. The reason it seems that way is because it is. Autechre make music that is post-classicist without the pretense, contextual electronica without the house music baggage.
Although the tenuous link between their records has been an unabashed attraction to machine-generated sounds, Autechre have gone from minimalist bleeps and whines to full-sweep sonics with stops everywhere in between. EP7 continues their mapless voyage with 11 tracks in an hour that harvest the warmth and context from their analog sources to create a fidgety swoon. To be sure, you'll find little here to dance to or sing along with, but that was never really the point, now was it? However, EP7 is -- despite your initial impression -- highly musical. Melodies (that sound more melodic from the next room) waft over tracks like "Zeiss Contarex" and rhythms (that sound more rhythmic from next door) actually propel "Left Blank" into near-funky territory. Nonetheless, EP7 (like the rest of Autechre's work) takes a little acclimation to handle. However, once adjusted, the reward is rich.
7.'EP7' by Jason Ward from The Trout Cave
Autechre delve back into the noisy, scrambled fractal structures with their latest release - the ep that's fuller than a full-length, EP7. I reckon this is their best release since Chiastic Slide. It shares that album's moirй pattern feel with strange, repetitive patterns blending together and creating an almost hallucinogenic listening experience. The mangled digital textures of LP5 are also present, but to me, they just seem to work a whole lot better this time. There are a few derivative moments ('Liccflii' sounds a lot like 'acroyear2' from LP5), but on the whole this is a fascinating listen. I do wish they hadn't fucked around with the formatting on the CD though. Some CD players I have recognise it as a 70min CD, others as a 60min. (There's actually about 6 minutes of digital noise wankery on Track 0 - starts 9 minutes before track 1) Unfortunately, my main player on my stereo doesn't like it and won't play the 1st track, I have to rewind from the 2nd if I want to hear it. I can understand the artistic merit in this kind of thing, but in reality, technology isn't all that stable and when it comes down to it, these days you're lucky if a CD will play at all. It'd be nice if extra headaches weren't created on purpose. Anyway, the music, when you get it going, is great. 'Rpeg' opens with a fuzzed-out mechanoid accordion doing the tarantella and a heavy, aquatic beat accompanies.
There's a lot more hiss and lo-fi surface grain on this release. I like it a lot. 'Left Blank' features cut-up soft analogue beats and spasmodic R2D2 bleeps over long decaying waves of noise. 'Dropp' features those cool random synth progressions the guys are famous for (Think "Escape From New York" incidental music played by a really stoned guy) while harsh sheets of fizz are sucked down a plughole. 'Maphive 6.1' is one of my faves. It starts with a slow synth arpeggio and FM synths under a fast, rolling timpani beat. It then morphs soundwise with bell sounds and a double bass mooching round the bottom end. The mix is very sparse. Then fucked-up 909 beats enter and pianos that skip like a pebble across the top of lake. Pitches go wobbly, all sorts of bells, chimes, vibraphones pepper the mix. I think this is an example of their interest in gamelan (they're supposedly meant to be doing something with Squarepusher (who apparently shares the interest)). It's a fascinating track. 'Zeiss Contarex' starts off with some mangled machine screams and after a pause, another minimal analogue beat (created on the Nord Modular perhaps?) starts up over an eternally descending jetstream. This track is very crunchy yet sparse and toward the end, garbled voices and a cut-up, whispering voice give the impression of watching TV with bad reception, from the inside. 'Pir' is another short exquisite track like 'Dropp', given the Frankenstein treatment. There are other good tracks but these are my favourites. The fact that it probably has the highest ratio of tracks that I really like from any Ae release says something to me. Brilliant, mutant psychedelic electronics. To me, these guys are the prime candidates to be the first people to upload their minds into their machines. Or have they done it already? BTW, the scan of the cover unfortunately doesn't show you the frosted jewel case with "autechre" embossed on it, a la LP5. Very classy packaging.
8.'EP7' by Kristoffer Noheden from Release Magazine
Since they began making music some seven albums ago, Manchester duo Autechre have resided in a musical area that is largely their own. They have combined harsh and metallic, but yet funky, rhythms, sad and often psychedelic tunes and white noise, into some of the finest electronica of the last few years. Their new eleven track record, which they for some reason have chosen to call an EP, largely sticks to their beaten path. It has the trademark Autechre sounds and their very characteristic feeling of loneliness and total isolation. But at times it also sees them moving into the same spheres as The Aphex Twin did on his amazing "Windowlicker" single. A couple of the tracks sound remarkably alike the irrational electronic madness of the "Windowlicker" b-sides, and the beat of "Dropp" is actually dangerously close to "Windowlicker" itself.
However, most of the other songs are perfect examples of what a great and original act Autechre is. "Outpt" is seven minutes of distorted funk, grey like concrete. "Maphive 6.1" has an impressive steel sounding rhythm. And the closing track "Pir" has one of the most beautiful melodies Autechre have written to this date, and would easily have fitted in on the fabulous 1997 album "Chiastic Slide".
9.'EP7' by Patrick Vandenberghe from Ultra
Saturation! Or a breakdown of sorts... Any work of art (or culture) that leads you to conclusions as "you oughtn't expect too much beforehand" is, frankly, disappointing, since normally you are not confronted with such thoughts but swept away by pleasure, enjoying the work of art you were curious about. Well... if you were puzzled or 'struck' by the previous statement, thank Autechre for it, as their "Ep7" just made me ponder on such matters - at least just a bit. It even made me realise, on a more positive tip, that there's more to life than "Ep7" - more fщn mainly -, that there is LIFE on earth, that those humans hаve indeed cultured themselves, that
mankind does have a history of music, etc. etc. However - ungrateful me -, those insights bring no satisfaction, as they are not the reason why I buy records - not by far. They only made me long for some jazz, some black saint and his sinner lady expressing something real...
Because, to put it bluntly:
"Ep7" is a dreary, boring record, not at all as sophisticated as the sleeve suggests, nor as subtle as Autechre's earlier minimal efforts. It is music for vacuum cleaning of the 1999th kind, my friends. Indeed, the more one listens to "Ep7", the more one realises it's some kind of 'genius void', a black hit of space in which two people have miraculously done away with their talents. It's a lot like Yes and Genesis actually. In the end, they crafted technical nothingness as well. Surviving themselves. Becoming a monumental tomb.
As a matter of fact, one might wonder what point Rob & Sean saw in releasing it, since other than their previous records, it doesn't say or convey much - feelings nor 'concepts'. After having refined their genius and its methods for some three albums (culminating in the fab "Tri repetae" and "Envane"), and trying to find new directions with the aptly titled crossroads album "Chiastic slide" (which still milked out the old genius formula a bit) and the so-so "No. 5", it seems that either there wasn't much to be found somewhere along those new paths they took, or that the well ran dry. (Hence the release of a single mcd instead of the almost 'usual', yearly cd+scd, and very few remix activity??). No more water in the well, only leftovers -
that is the feeling I get from "Ep7" (e.g. "Maphive" sounds like it's been lying on the shelf since those A.R.T. and "Artificial intelligence 1" days when B12 and Plaid first started emulating the Detroit sound). Moreover, "Ep7" is actually that annoying that it makes you wonder if it is one of those records that are squeezed out of an act by the record label. Nah... with Warp, that'd be surprising. So perhaps there are 'personal reasons' involved, or maybe expectations from various angles (record label, local distributors, press, fans...) have indeed gradually been getting too high, as Ae and many other Warp acts with them (Aphex Twin, Black Dog, LFO) got '(techno) star' status? Or did they just try boring our pants off as a new path because 'the Ae way of making music' was & is getting copied by so many others (Funkstoerung & Phoenicia being the prime examples)? Aw, I just think that the inspiration was lacking, this time around, whatever the reason.
And so "Ep7" stands erect as a prime example of pointless exercise in not reaching the point where the listener might be intrigued or enthused. Moreover "Ep7" is not even an exercise, for lack of a concept. The only problem "Ep7" puts is the question 'Pretentious casualness or casual pretense?' Or maybe it was more Shakespearean: 'to be (in the shops) or not to be (released)'... Anyway, I'm getting a bit fed up with all those low-key but oh so pretentiously self-indulgent random-button-hitting knob-twiddling-without-a-purpose releases that Fat Cat, Worm Interface, Skam
and other fashionably shabby trainspotter (or Warp thrift) labels have been bothering us with for the last year or so (e.g. those nerdishly immature Freeform or Push Button Objects releases of late). Nay, it was a nasty surprise to find out - with "Ep7" - that both Autechre (and Warp) saw fit to join in those epigone boredom conquests, especially after those already pretty bleak "Cichli suite", "Album 5" releases and those two pointless Skam 010 12"s. I mean, take for instance "Squeller"... that is just one of many
tracks that could've been worked out a bit further, isn't it? So why release it? Let's not mistake an art historian's "anything goes" with a business man's "release it all - cash on in", shall we? 'Cuz, geez, "Outpt" sounds like a 7" B-side by a couple of late seventies Human League imitators, whereas 1994's "444" (on the "Incunabula" debut) or 1995's "Nonima" or 1997's "Envane: draun quarter" sounded like they were going to end up in the Metropolitan Museum! Whatever happened? Normally, in a recording career, it's the other way round... Or take for instance "Pir" - that sounds like it's some Aphex Twin "Ambient works II" leftover! I can agree that there
has to be some difference between then and now, mates, but on "Ep7", only "Left blank" and "Dropp" have got some depth & direction, haven't they, and even then "Dropp" is still only a bleak echo of "Keynell"... So what was the idea anyway? Is "Ep7" quite simply a collection of leftovers?
Nah, what am I writing, that same old way-too-complex, sour, critical
bullshit? Maybe I'm just not getting it, or maybe I'm too demanding. I
dunno. Lemme just conclude by stating, once again, that in my view,
Autechre's current approach is a dead end street. "Ep7" doesn't stand on its own, it needs either a vacuum cleaner or another soundscape record to make it worthwhile. Come to think of it, it even isn't all that great for mixing purposes either... (Mixing or a similar goal - in that sense the Gescom minidisc was genial.) Let's hope Autechre or Gescom will come up with some serious stuff pretty soon, ey?
Oh and, sorry for being tedious. Maybe I just should've stuck to "Rob & Sean can do a lot better"?
10.'EP7' by Pearson Greer from Flakmagazine
On first listen, this record could give the impression that Autechre was turning into the techno version of math-rock (that undanceable, frequently atonal stuff that the kids in horn-rims seem to dig so much these days — Polvo, Slint, June of 44.). There didn’t appear, on first listen, to be as many nods to the classic electro-old-version-of-futurism sounds that make Autechre such an easy act to fall for. Another quick thought is that maybe EP7 sounds a little too much like Aphex Twin, which isn’t so bad, so much as it would have been a shame since Autechre has their own sound, and doesn’t need anyone else’s.
EP7 is not just the same old bleeps and bloops that one may or may not be used to from Autechre, and it's not a drastic stylistic departure either. Tempos have become faster, rhythms more complex, and as ever, Rob Brown and Sean Booth have found a way to recycle the weirdest screeblings this side of your modem into melody lines.
Autechre's music is innovative and as instantly recognizable as any singer’s voice. Every now and then a recognizable keyboard or drum machine sound might pop up, but its quickly swallowed by the most creative use of surface noise this side of Flying Saucer Attack. The results show up as rhythms that are anything but four-on-the-floor and harmonies that feature dueling washing machines instead of banjos. Autechre wraps their sonic constructions tight, and if you wish, they’ll seal you in with them.
11.'EP7' by Ryan Schreiber from Pitchfork
Warp Records is one of those labels that releases so much stuff that it's kinda hard to keep up with 'em. They don't have U.S. offices, as far as I know, so their stuff is released over here primarily by indie labels. Matador's pushing the majority of Warp releases-- they've got Red Snapper, Two Lone Swordsmen, Boards of Canada and a bunch of others; Trent Reznor's Nothing imprint issues the better known stuff like Squarepusher, Plaid, and these guys, Autechre.
Autechre have, over the past few years, become one of the best- loved acts on the Warp roster, and with good reason. Their sound is distinctly their own-- they generate the weirdest noises they can extract from their various pieces of analog and digital equipment, and turn it into a mindfuck of skittering madness.
Last year's full- length, LP5, was one of their most diverse and innovative works to date. The majority of its tracks seemed to start with minimalist percussion, and gradually build on the rhythm by dropping in more noises until the songs became complex works of sonic terrorism. But we're not so lucky this time around. EP7's tracks start out complex and kind of meander for a few minutes before blending seamlessly into the next number. (It should also be noted that while I believe the band classifies EP7 as an EP release, it is, in actuality, another full- length album. Here, we're presented with 11 new songs and over 60 minutes of new music.)
The problem with EP7 lies with its lack of diversity. These songs all sound reasonably similar, offering very little in the way of originality. It's hard to differentiate between the tracks, and after 20 minutes, it even begins to grate. On LP5, the songs were their own distinct entities, with each cut bringing something new to the table. EP7 just seems to wander around aimlessly, alternating between prime Autechre cuts and uninspired filler.
"Ccec" adds a layer of chopped up, unintellegable rap lyrics to their usual mix; "Liccflii" presents a barage of speedy, cut-up beats and an array of musical plings and plangs; "Maphive 6.1" is an eight minute long epic, and perhaps one of EP7's most compelling cuts, offering what sounds like an Aphex'd timpani and toy piano; and "Pir," the album's closing track, brings us a gorgeous ambient melody over-- you guessed it-- standard fucked-up Autechre percussion.
Sadly, the guys seem uninterested for much of the rest of the record. Perhaps they realize they've become one of Warp's most revered assets and can therefore spend most of their studio time slacking while still receiving tons of critical acclaim and watching their album sales skyrocket. Whatever the case, EP7 isn't their most shining hour. If you want the good stuff, reach for their earlier work.