I have a joke i tell about Autechre. It goes like this:
Autechre have been making experimental electronic music since 1991. After about 5 albums of abstract beats and sound collages Autechre discovered ... melody.
Ha ha. That just kills me. No seriously -- early Autechre,
the stuff i play to drive people out of a party when i am ready
to go to bed, is grating. It's all wierd noises and strange
rhythms. It's intellectual music -- music for mathematicians.
It certainly isn't for dancing, since the rhythms are nothing
that you can shake your booty too, well, at least not without
a calculator and some graph paper....
But lately their compositions have become smoother. More fluid. At times there
is even a melody that you could hum!
It is as if, after years of just making really cool noises with their computers, Autechre discovered that there is some purpose to "structured music" after all. Not that they are composing concertos now, but rather that their music is less "out there" and more real, fulfilled, and concrete.
They aren't just experimenting with noise any more, they are crafting music out of it.
Does that make sense? I mean, i like the early stuff -- it's
intellectual music and i can respect that. But it has the appeal
of free jazz -- most people avoid it at all costs. It is designed
more as an exercise in skill than as a portrayal of emotions.
Well, this EP (of tracks created for a Peel Session in 2000)
is less free jazz and more structured. As far as music goes,
it's not bad. Oh sure, the vast majority of Minions (as well
as most normal folk) could probably live perfectly good lives
without ever hearing this. However, for those who want a little
bit of experimentalism, this is a good starting point. If you
have never heard Autechre and are not sure you would like them,
listen to this. If this EP doesn't annoy you, then you might
want to "move up" to some of their more challenging work, like
Tri Repetae. However, if the music on this EP
confuses and annoys you, then perhaps it is best if you just
avoid Autechre altogether.
There are four songs, so let me examine them each.
Up first is Gelk. This is a song built out of skittering
beats and phase-shifted samples that float in and out of focus.
There is a neat little melody for a while in the middle, but
it too fades out of focus eventually. The beats and some deep
bass notes tend to dominate the song. Towards the end, a real
deep groove gets going, the melody floats back in, and the song
becomes otherworldly reggae. On the whole, a neat little piece.
Blifil follows, and is a much more frenetic song than the previous ones. Software damaged drumbeats thump furiously, and high-pitched keyboard-y sounds dance around in the background. Eventually there are modified vocal samples in there as well. This is really more of a rhythm piece than anything, the complex rhythms dominate its 7 minute length. I guess that this is a dance song. I couldn't dance to this, but then again, i can't dance to anything.
The third track is called Gaekwad, which reminds me a lot of two different songs. On the one hand it has that strange "bouncing sound" like in the Aphex Twin song Bucephelous Bouncing Ball off of the soundtrack to Pi, then on the other hand it has some foreground keyboard trills and melodies that remind me of Orblivion-era Orb. I would never have thought that these two sounds could go together, but Autechre make them work. I like this song a good bit, and it is quite catchy as far as Autechre songs go. It might be their catchiest piece to date!
Autechre finish their Peel Session with 19 Headaches. This song is a mess of beeps, bloops, and beats. There is no real discernable melody, in fact, it is the song that reminds me most of early Autechre. It is the sound of robots debating -- kinda neat, but not really all that listenable.
So there you go. I really think that Gaekwad, which is definitely the EP's high point, is actually enough of a "song" that people who usually don't like Autechre might enjoy it. Otherwise, well, this EP is kind of more of the same.