Plink plink fizz. Autechre are back with a new LP's worth of aural Alka-Seltzer. The titles are, as ever, irrelevant phonetic mumblings - but for the sake of this review we may as well refer to them. 'Cipater' continues in vein of the latest Gescom stuff, providing a tech-hop assault on the senses. Chill out music for assembly line workers or shellshock victims. Despite its stomping crunch, there is subtlety here aswell. Rhythms and moods are slowly doctored until they take on a new meaning. Slivers of melody catch your attention at the points throughout, but this is probably the most freeform Autechre have been thus far. Usually their tracks tend to stick to a constant groove, and although here some elements vary quite a bit, but over such a long period of time that you don't really notice unless you put the needle on at the beginning and then the end.
Autechre's fascination with static, hiss and machine noise is evident again on 'Rettic Ac', something which can only be descibed as an interlude between the first and third tracks. Unlike the static pulses of 'Tri Repeate', the noise here is used in a more random and complex manner, and is joined only by the expressive emotion of a dischordant choir. The track ends with the sound of a speech synthesiser never getting past its first syllable, burbling away to itself endlessly.
'Tewe' reminds me of the Aphex Twin. The clonking flange beats and background melody improvisations conjure up a sound which is not unlike some of 'I Care Because You Do's slower moments. A slight drum and bass influence can be detected here in the way the hi-hat sounds unfurl and overlap into different rhythms and tempos. Later it can be heard in the ticking hi-hat and bass hit combination. Its very subtle though. Perhaps it has always been there in Autechre's music, but has only become noticable since the growth of jungle. Regardless, this is still pretty cerebral stuff and won't be rivalling any jump-up junglists yet. Mellow...
Side two places us in familiar territory with 'Cichli', an electro white noise shuffle of superior quality, taking in synth plonks, washy glass chordial sounds and some soft flowing bass for your head. All in all, it comes out a little like Boards of Canada, who essentially do what Autechre used to do. In order words this is Retrotechre, harking back to days past in a way which, like the Boards, is a nice enough Chateau retreat to retire to, where we can nostalgically admire the scenery for a little while, before popping back to the present day. Pleasant. And before we leave we are treated to one of those extra long five minute 'is it ever going to end' fadeouts.
Pure head (pounding) music abounds, as we plunge deeper into the garbage compacter that is Autechre's latest LP. 'Hub' (a real word!) throws beats yer way and watches them get louder and louder as they skim past your ears, narrowly avoiding hitting you square in the chops. Off kilter chordy madness and spooky haunted house FX are the name of the game here, and more repetetive than usual too, looping round and round in a kind of satisfying way. Until it finally breaks up into radio hummmmm and ends. Ah.
Following on we get 'Calbruc' which comes on like a hip-hop Alec Empire. Digital hardcore for those radox moments. Sounds like a contradiction in terms? Well kind of, but Autechre have alway been that. Chilled yet abrasive. And there lies the appeal and inner strength of Autechre. Short but sweet, this one, leaving the speakers before I get a decent word in edgeways.
Paranoid bird call SOS transmissions from the rainforest are what we get on 'Recury'. Sounds a bit sick. Not twisted-sick but y'know, just a bit poorly/under the weather. Hmm. Someone seems to be drilling a hole in thin air. Thats what it sounds like, anyway. And its really really really long. Slips into a coma at the end, filling in all the holes with the distorted sounds of rain entering a storm drain. Odd.
Well, thats the wierdness over, as we find salvation in the playful electronics of the final side. 'Pule' is the token ambient beatless plonky one of the LP (there always has to be one). It's really rather excellent though, despite my cynical comments and purrs away gently in the corner like an overfed cat.
Last orders come in the form of 'Nuane'. 'Nuane' in the membrane! This one is another cornflake cruncher. No milk on Autechre's cereal, thats for sure! Yet again we are force fed a diet of pure sonic shrapnel as 'Nuane' entices us with Kenny Larkin style Detroitian space sounds before loading up the shovel with nut and bolts and ramming it firmly down our choking throats into an already full stomach. Looks like I'll be needing that Alka-Seltzer they so helpfully provided at the beginning after all! So round we go again...
Conclusions? Again, 'Chiastic Slide' sees Autechre consolidating there position ever further as they become more and more locked in to a sound they have claimed as their own. While there are a few overtly retro moments on here, most of the tracks are at least treading some new ground, and its alway nice to have another Autechre LP for those rainy (gloomy, cloudy, storm laden) days indoors.
'Chiastic Slide' then. Its a bit like home baked bread. Nice and fresh at each end, but a bit stodgy in the middle. Its a staple food though and you never really get bored of it. Buy it and not for the first time, Chiastic Slide away... (sorry!)