1.'Confield' by Jacob Haagsma from OOR Magazine #9
Judging by the recent releases of ‘electronic listening music’, it is safe to say Autechre are the most influential band of the moment. Even Radiohead appear to be heavily influenced by the duo. Reason enough to see what the masters have come up with themselves. If you are interested to know where Thom Yorke looks for inspiration nowadays and you’re not prepared, Confield will scare the hell out of you. However, the more experienced listener will be greatly entertained by the music Sean Booth and Rob Brown provide. Autechre have developed quite impressively from the experienced electro-fans they were at the beginning of their career to the professors of sound they are these days. Tracks such as Pen Expers and Eidetic Casein are intended for the dance-floor, but in an indirect manner and perhaps even unintentional. The first is built around ripped-apart drum-computer patterns and the latter even contains a funky bass-line, bursting through a pretty much impenetrable wall of noise. The rest is business as usual. Rhythms and melodies come together in a sensual sea of noise; sounds tick and click in pervertedly arranged compositions. It’s clear that the duo’s main business is software manipulation, but from behind the pointy, stimulating musical fences melodies emerge that instantly steal your heart. After all, Autechre appeals to head and heart.
2.'Confield' review by Erik S Fredricks
I've been listening to Confield since I got home from work and gingerly pulled it out of the mailbox with trembling hands. What can I say? It's good. Not good as in, "Yeah, Zooropa was cool if you listen to it as a Brian Eno record" good, but good as in cancelling social plans so as to stay home and listen to it.
I've heard some people say that it's more "accesible," comparing it to the first two records, but I don't see the resemblance. This is years ahead of Incunabula or Amber. The general sonic palette is definitely softer than Lp5, but the rythms are much quicker and more hectic, even if the actual tempo of most of the tracks is very slow.
That spinning-bottle noise they used on "Krib" from Chiclisuite seems to be a regular part of their vocabulary now. "Vi Scose Poise" opens with what sounds like Sonata #1 for glass bottle and spinning cap, which gradually coalesces into a rythm of paradiddles that skip all over the place between speakers. I have to wonder how many tracks it took just to record the backing track. The melody enters, sounding like something off Incunabula, even though I'm reminded more of "Pir" from Ep7.
"Cfern" chugs along in 6/8 and even swings a bit, throwing in
some wooden mallet instruments and Hammond organ.
"Pen Expers" took me off guard, opening with what sounds like a malfunctioning Roland Dr. Drum (gold star if you can remember those!), but once the chords start sparking in from the edges of the speakers, they blend in perfectly with the cheesy snare, and you realize that this is the only way it could have worked. Then you realize just how much this track POUNDS. Once it settles in, it reminds me alot of "Rae," except faster. The most dramatic piece on here and so far, my favorite.
"Sim Gishel" has the most straightforward rythm of any track on here. It sounds alot like "Tilapia," except with a drone in the
background that sounds like a chorale of generators. There's harmony in there, alot like there was in "Zeiss Whatsamoever," you just have to strain to catch it.
"Parhelic Triangle" is not the Steve Reich remix floating around on Napster, but whoever uploaded that had an uncanny sense of humor. The real track also relies heavily on tolling bells, but it's in 7/4 (I think) and sounds more like wind chimes blowing around in some abandoned factory.
"Bine" reminds me very much of "Vletrmx21" in mood. It's got the somber chords that sound like an amplified string section playing
Barber's Adagio, except here, they cut in and out like a faulty radio. There's a ridiculously fast and chaotic beat underpinning the whole track, but it actually generates more of a feeling of stasis. Spinning fast sitting still. Nice job, guys.
"Eidetic Casein" picks up where "Arch Carrier" left off in mood, with a steady backbeat and lots of descending chromatics. Another really dramatic track.
"Uviol" is absolutely beautiful. A bunch of tones just hang in the air like icicles while a loping beat that seems to ebb and flow pulls things along nicely. In terms of general feel, it seems to link back to "Vi Scose Poise."
"Lentic Catachresis" plays a two-chord progression while
chopped-up vocals struggle for coherency over a beat that alternately
speeds up and slows down. I get the impression of a machine desperately struggling to get words out. The beats start to degenerate into chaos as the chords ricochet along, and then it just stops and you're left with the sound of the cd player winding down and silence, in my case stunned silence. After a few minutes, you remember to start breathing again.
There's not a weak track on here. What I see now is that Ep7 and the second Peel Session , inconsistent as they were, were just warm-ups for this. All the disjointed ideas from those eps are tied up here in an organized, coherent form. As weird and difficult as this album SHOULD be, it's not. This is serious (please forgive me) avant-garde stuff, but there's nothing self-indulgent or sterile about it. To pull something like this off right...well, it's one hell of a feat. This isn't electronica or armchair techno or IDM. This belongs in the bins with John Cage and Ligeti.
One more thing while I eat bandwidth. This record SOUNDS great. Every sound is meticulously placed in the mix. When I first listened to "Vi Scose Poise," I thought my air-conditioner was malfunctioning, but it's actually a drone placed somehow in the mix that it sounds as if it's coming from another room. In terms of engineering alone, this record seriously raises the bar. It sounds, well...tactile.
Of course, I'm preaching to the converted here, but what the
heck, I'm just happy they decided to leave that Alanis Morisette
collaboration off the record...
3.'Confield' review by Patrick Vandenberghe
Opinions on Ae's recent output differed considerably; "Confield" will only re-unite them to a certain extent. After an intermezzo during which the Booth/Brown duo was (imho) rather uninspired, so much so even that they couldn't conjure up a plot nor a title for their releases - cf. "(Autechre)" aka "Album #5" and "Ep7" -, their sixth album "Confield" sounds like a fresh new start from the point where "Chiastic Slide" ended, early in 1997. What didn't succeed all that well (yet) on that fourth album, now seems to falls into place more rewardingly. However, "Confield" is at times still pretty complex, and thus also in line with their recent work. Contrary to what some voices said beforehand, the new album does not return to "Tri Repetae"-era compositions. But it does once again have tracks with a dramatic development or emotional catharsis of some sorts, chilled though the album is, at times. And most of all, it most definitely is an album, a whole. (When they delivered the finished album to Warp, the label even recognised a concept or red thread in it, alledgedly.) For instance, a track like "Pen expers" may sound like a freakout of complex drum programming, but it also has thin echoes of keyboard parts in it that tie it together and give it depth. Thus, it rounds off the first suite on the album, which opened almost ritually with "VI scose poise", an ambientish piece with an almost ethnic 'scale drum / jar bell' sound which then gives way to the more rhythmic "Cfern", which is classic Ae.
However, whereas a few listening rounds will make the first three tracks fall into place, the rather more simple "Sim gishel" and "Eidetic casein" may remain disappointing for lack of a pointe. Luckily, "Confield" is a whole, or at least made up of fine clusters, and so these tracks are each followed by a brilliant track. "Parthelic triangle" is a career highlight, with its heavily brooming hiphop-in-reverse rhythm to which ethereal chimes were added, whereas "Uviol" is one of their most impressive tales of mystery and imagination so far, with its digital crickets and all. "Bine" on the other hand is a more chilled industrial-sounding ambient pieces which might betray the fact that Autechre once collaborated with Zoviet France (i.e. "put some guerilla moves together"; the aforementioned ethnoritual-sounding elements point in a similar direction, but in the end "Confield" doesn't state any other credits than "Booth+Brown").
All in all, "Confield" is an austere album, but one with an identiy. It's no longer faceless up to the point of being clinical and boring (however inspired tracks such as "Under boac" on "Autechre [#5]" were). Compositionwise, it makes up for time lost as it's Ae's first really satisfying release since "Envane", whereas soundwise Messrs Booth & Brown prove that they're still in a superleague of their own - as they always have been, even before 1997. "Confield" will not prove to be Autechre's masterpiece, but at last, Autechre seem to be back on an interesting track. [The so-so start (feverish, nervous) but superb finish (two of the four tracks) at the Brussels gig led towards the same conclusion, incidentally.] May their recent move (or at least that of their studio) to the country bring them ever more inspiration!
Oh and may I recommend reading David Toop's review of "Confield" in the Wire? Not that it passes final judgement, but it does offer a couple of fine observations...
4.'Confield' review from Absorb.org
it can be a dogs life this electronic music business. with artists who'd let their zx81 act as a press officer rather than actually make themselves known to the public as well as an obvious lack of gossip and scandal for us poor hacks to report. it really is left up to the music. but when the music itself is so far removed from anything remotely....earthly, then you've got to ask yourself, who's actually listening?
well, (from this planet anyway) it seems like quite a fair few of you, judging by the reputation with which you seem to hold rob brown and sean booth, also known as autechre (pronounced 'aww-tek-er'). long serving members of warp's 'intelligent techno' blueprint. they have, through a course of excellent albums, moved ever further away into their own world. a world governed by fractured disco and 13/7 rhythmic timings all swarming with electronic ticks.
now i know that the stereophonics might suddenly seem an enticing prospect, but for those that actually understand what the f**k i'm on about, you don't need to read on but for every one else. let me tell you that this album is probably one of the most important statements ever made in electronic music. as soon as the metallic shuffle of 'vi scose poise' filters in, you have to pay attention. a staggeringly beautiful opening, this develops over time with intricate arrangement, rumbling bass and reverbed piano. 'cfern' is a complete contrast, an exercise in drums, while 'pen expers' continues this noisy theme to its melodic conclusion.
a recognisible beat, at last, appears on 'sim gishel' while in the background, an orchestra of computers slowly starts shutting down in sequence. 'parhelic triangle' sounds like, well it's difficult to describe in english really. i could try a foreign language to see if any words match the sounds. 'bine' is hyper-kinetic glitchcore, ominious and geniunely creepy sounds sweep across the stereo while the uncontrollable tempo really punishes your speakers. 'eidetic casien' is just f**king bizarre! autechre trying to do a proper song, but those darn machines keep getting in the way. 'uviol' will have any dogs in the area running for cover as incredibly high-pitched percussion try to form an electro beat before breaking down under it's own weightlessness.
the wonderfully named 'lentic catachresis' (or 'lentil casserole' as its now known around absorb towers) is autechre's parting shot, where they mansge some restraint compared to the harsh brittle percussive elements of previous tracks. couldn't really be called ambient, but the backing of synth washes and dissonant fractured voices help to create a vivid landscape of where our digital friends now reside in permenant stasis.
5.'Confield' review from The Milk Factory
Since the release of their first album, Incunabula, in 1993, Sean Booth and Rob Brown, aka Autechre, have constantly worked on their sound, to make it mutate from rather conventional electronica to abstract leftfield structures. In eight years, they’ve established themselves as one of the most avant-garde bands of their time.
Confield, Autechre’s sixth album, is yet another step forward into contemporary electronic music. The duo leave behind them the metallic atmospheres of LP5 to go back to the more organic forms of Tri Repetae and Chiastic Slide. Confield is anything but a regression though. The gentle underlying melody of VI Scose Poise, only just fighting off the distorted metallic marble, or the fast moving sonorities of Cfern, amid the chaotic drum pattern, demonstrate that Autechre have lost nothing of their ability to deconstruct any sound that crosses their path. The apparent simplicity of the beat in Sim Gishel is an illusion, as are the multi-layered bells of Parhelic Triangle. Uviol sounds even more basic; a simple melody, clicks loop, a few drum arrangements. However, the impression is deceiving, as the duo crafts their intricate universe between the lines. Bine is totally deconstructed, and works on many different levels. It almost sounds like two or more tracks playing at the same time. Yet, with disconcerting ease, Booth and Brown position each sound with absolute precision in their soundscape. All along the album, they work at microscopic level, to ensure the consistency of their compositions, each component of each track develops at its pace, and it is only when considered as a whole that the piece really takes form. Confield is the closest Autechre have ever been to the work of Pierre Henry, with astonishingly complex, abrasive structures slowly mutating, creating ever-changing, poly-textural life forms. Each track is independent, and yet is an essential part of the finished work.
In eight years and nearly as many albums, Autechre have invented, and continue to invent, a totally new form of sonic constructions, far beyond the realm of music as we know it. Sean Booth and Rob Brown have smashed the boundaries of modern electronic music, leaving their contemporaries far behind. Forever.