1.'Peel Session' by Aron Coleman from www.almostcool.org
I always wondered what Autechre would sound like outside the confines of their sterile studio environment, and finally Warp came to my rescue in offering up this peel session of the group in action. Of course, now that I've heard the disc, it's not like they really sound any different than they do normally, which is a joy. One of the most interesting things about this 3 song, 25 minute release isn't that it was released in 1999, before their EP7 release, but that it was originally recorded way back in 1995.
Of course, as I mentioned before, it's not like the group goes completely crazy on any of the tracks or anything. If anything, there's a bit more of a measured quality than on their newer, more experimental releases. It sounds kind of like that perfect bridge between the gorgeous Amber, and the harder-edged Tri-Repetae. Of course, considering when it was recorded, that should probably be the case anyway.
Things start off with the 6-minute track "Milk DX," which has a beat that sounds like someone trying to slog their way through a kidding pool with lead boots on. In come the nearly trademark clicks and whirs and other lovely sounds, until finally the track is one big, pulsing whole comprised of fractured bits and a pretty little melody that drifts in from the background and holds it all together. "Inhake 2" moves along with plenty more gurgling noises, as well as a sample of a voice that may have been human at some point. The highlight of the disc is the nearly 11-minute closing track entitled "Drane" ("Drane 2" appears on their 1998 Lp5 release). Progressing at nearly a snails pace with a skittering little sound that recalls restless insects on a summer night, a drone slowly finds its way to the forefront of the track and engulfs everything at one point (with only light sonar blips barely audible behind it). After a few moments of being pitch bent and tweaked, the drone drops off slightly and a little heavier chiming rhythm comes in to carry things to the end.
Overall, if you like Autechre, this disc is a must have. Not only is it three tracks you've probably never heard before, but it's a decent amount of music and doesn't run that much money. It's not quite as strange as their new material (although that's not a bad thing), and it provides yet another interesting document of the groups sound.
2.'Peel Session' by Adam Heimlich from CDNOW
This 25-and-a-half-minute release provides an excellent introduction to one of the most unique of Europe's instrumental beats-and-electronics acts, Autechre.
Fans of the reclusive English duo (whose name is pronounced Aw-TECK-er), too, will appreciate the high production values and refined editorial sensibility that characterizes every "Peel Session." The three tracks on this EP were recorded as part of Autechre's 1994 appearance on John Peel's U.K. Radio 1 show.
In sharp contrast with the vast majority of its colleagues in the British dance-music scene, Autechre seems intent on maintaining, even exaggerating the human element in its machine-crafted compositions.
Its rhythms don't throb or pulse so much as stretch and snap back, as if the rests between impacts were connected by tendons. And the layers of warm-hued tones that wash over Autechre's muscular frames seem expressive of emotions that language fails.
Listening to this EP is like gazing through a peephole at the workings of a strange, hermetically sealed-off intelligence.
3.'Peel Session' by Brian J. Dillard from Armchair DJ
Cheap digital recording technology allows producers to create a seemingly limitless amount of material. No matter how many tracks a techno act puts out, you can be sure there are plenty more sitting in the vaults. Case in point: This recording of a 1995 John Peel radio show, on which British electronica veterans Autechre trot out a trio of unreleased tracks to the delight of trainspotters everywhere. The spluttering beats on "Drone" are nowhere near as ornate as on the act's later work, but there's enough rhythmic heft to enliven the thick goo of synthesized melody that gives the track its name. "Milk DX" relies on a similar tension between fussy breakbeats and sampled chords, while "Inhake 2" replaces most of the musicality with deep, brittle bass. Splitting the difference between ambient and concrete, the duo put abstract concepts into oddly appealing practice.
4.'Peel Session' by Gil Gershman from Motion
The tracks from this particular John Peel Session have been widely circulated via the CD-R underground since their initial airing in October of 1995. Warp finally capitulates to the clamoring of Autechre's loyal legions with an official release of a missing-piece important to understanding Sean Booth and Rob Brown's subsequent releases. The clever CD art even cracks wise about the unsanctioned home-burn legacy of these coveted tracks. Why all the fuss? Discussing Autechre in terms of "vintage" seems a little ridiculous. After all, 1995 wasn't that long ago, was it? But that's how these three tracks should be approached. This is vintage Autechre, an Autechre that still hadn't slipped the leash of its Artificial Intelligence identity. No matter how itchy the rhythms get, Booth and Brown are here far more concerned with - and restricted by - the dictums of their IDM peers. All three tracks serve as sterling specimens of the IDM craft, sound-as-parchment palimpsests generated from erosive, incisive analogue quasi-melodies. In these relics from the contoured ambience and insectoid rhythmic complexes of "Basscadet" and Amber, we also have the earliest seeds of Autechre's geometric progression. At this stage, Autechre may not have even considered the possibilities for caustic Industrial disturbance milked shortly after in Tri Repetae and its herald EPs ("Garbage" and "Anvil Vapre"); and they definitely weren't ready to delve into the electroacoustic conjectures and process-music convolutions of Chiastic Slide. Autechre circa 1995 was a far tamer creature, though a pronounced leap in beat complexity has already crept into "Milk DX," and the hiphop/electro thread which would later be thoroughly pursued, explored and exploited in "Envane" and LP5 shines like a beacon on "Inhake 2." Even in their "old-skool" days, operating as IDM's architects, Autechre showed great promise as experimentalists. The Peel Session was a formative step, seemingly small but absolutely key, in their evolution. An added foretoken comes in the similarity of "Drane" - layered, cyclical, shifting by fractional melodic degrees - to the 1995 recordings of :zoviet*france: (especially the Digilogue LP). The following year would actually find Autechre teaming with the reclusive Newcastle collective in low-key live appearances. Brown and Booth readily admit that such hands-on exposure to :z*f:'s uniquely instinctive approach prompted a redirection of Autechre. So "Drane" can be regarded as a critical point in the Autechre timeline, the very chiasm at which their IDM past and experimental future converged several years ahead of their own present. One small step ...
5.'Peel Session' by Jason Ward from The Trout Cave
This Peel Session was originally broadcast on 13/10/95 and from what I’ve read provides the link between the melodic Autechre of Amber and its predecessors and the crunchier, more abstract Autechre of Tri Repetae and beyond. As I don’t own Amber or anything earlier I can’t really speak to that. To me it combines the noisy, digitally processed rhythms of later Ae with their trademark lush, synthesized melancholia quite nicely. ‘Milk DX’ features a strangulated, skittering mid-tempo beat with a cyclical, mournful synth melody and muffled vocal sequence. Come to think of it, it sounds uncannily like Kenny from South Park. Oh no, will I ever be able to listen to this track seriously again. ‘Inhake 2’ features a much more four-on-the-floor beat and more of those seemingly random yet cool sounding interactions of bass and synth lead that these guys never tire of. ‘Drane’ is really the centrepiece here at almost 11 minutes and is a sparser, more ambient track in the vein of ‘Overand’ from Tri Repetae. The rhythm is built up from squelchy spurts of sound sewn together. High pitched digital and submerged bass tones mark out a clockwork motif. Then a thick, phased pad fades in and is modulated and manipulated throughout the remainder of the track. Ae’s emotional detachment yet keen melodic sensibility produces another winner.
6.'Peel Session' by Ryan Schreiber from Pitchfork
If you know 'em, maybe you love 'em. They're Autechre, folks-- Sean Booth and Rob Brown. Since 1993, these guys have been inventing, tweaking, twiddling, programming and creating the strangest sounds on this Planet Earth. A good reason to love them, but not good enough. See, to truly love a band, they've gotta actually stimulate you. They gotta activate your mind. Lucky for them, they do that, too. Otherwise, they'd be... I don't know, nameless bedroom losers emulating the Chemical Brothers or something.
But Autechre don't emulate. And if they did, I'm sure they'd find someone better to copy than the Chemical Brothers. Instead, they do their own thing-- a thing of beauty. Is it hard to describe? You bet your ass, and thanks for asking. But allow me to give it a shot. Imagine what it'd sound like if Donkey Kong got his arm caught in a massive salad shooter. Or how it might sound if a drum machine attacked a Pokemon. Yeah, now you're getting somewhere.
But here's the deal with electronic music: you've got emulators, inventors and the inbetween. And on a scale of one to ten-- ten being the most inventious of inventors-- Autechre rack up about a nine. When you hear them, you'll know why. Purchase, ye! I encourage thee. Go and discover! Seek! Find!
As for all y'all who're already Autechre fans, mark these words: this is not your average Peel Session. Sure, it's about 30 minutes long, but that's where the comparisons between this and, say, That Petrol Emotion's Peel Sessions end. What you get is some serious-ass Autechre improv, brand new songs composed on the spot. Remarkably, they don't sound dramatically different from the songs on last year's LP5 (also referred to simply as Autechre 'cause it didn't acutally have a title). On "Milk DX" and "Inhake 2," the beats jump and twitch like some b-movie zombie OD'ing on coke, and the shimmery, computer tones glisten in pools of warm liquid goo. But on "Drone," Peel Sessions' third and final track, the band experiments with a rhythm that sounds more like an old- school lawn sprinkler than a computer hard drive, and a sci-fi doom orchestra that crescendos and gradually builds before becoming a distorted vortex opening into Dimension X.
So, the low-down is, "Milk DX" and "Inhake 2" are your typical Autechre, with the band doing things their own way, yet with a good deal of predictibility. "Drone" is Autechre at their most amazing, creating psychedelic freakouts and other- worldly soundscapes that attack the senses as much as they massage them. Beautiful Autechre. Dreamy Autechre. So Peely before mine ears.
7.'Peel Session' by T.L from Akiko
Packaged in the minimal artwork we've come to expect from Autechre, this three tracker is approximately the musical equivalent of moving house and finding that eighth you lost three years ago under the bed. It's a long way from archaeology, but DAMN, what a find...
So, what we actually get is three tracks lovingly stamped and sputtered onto disc from Ae's glorious past. Actually, the contents of this session are a little surprising considering their original transmission date. Barely a month before the speech removing Tri Repetae, the tracks here, especially Drane, bridge the gap between the aforementioned album and its successor, the empty Chiastic Slide. Presumably this must have been the sound they were working on after they had completed Tri Repetae, which just goes to show how restless the pair are. I might be disappointed with their recent output (alright, I AM), but one thing I have come to expect from Booth and Brown is change. The distanced, viral sounds of Autechre need to mutate constantly, that's what makes them so great when it all works out.
Did it all work out this time? I think so. The sound is Autechre in something of a harsh mood, and while it lacks some of the warmth found in earlier records, it still has that knack of building up a mosaic of unrelated clicks and whirrs into a bigger, more sensible picture. Also, and probably unimportantly, it heavily relies on sampled snippets of voice, which adds to the surreality by making your brain invent words as you listen. No, really, it's nothing to do with my medication...