Release Date: Mar 23, 2010
Record label: Warp
To impose a narrative is an attempt to control chaos. That’s why William Burroughs – a man whose entire literary oeuvre assaulted the concept of control personified by the ‘Thought Police’ – deliberately eschewed standard notions of structure in novels like Naked Lunch and The Place Of Dead Roads. He replaced plot and character with kaleidoscopes of apparently random imagery which mirrored the chaos he regarded as mankind’s most natural state.
The first thing you must know about Oversteps, the latest in Autechre’s apparently neverending stream of album releases: its second track, “ilanders”, is the easiest-to-love Autechre track since “Second Bad Vilbel” arrived 15 years ago. The two tracks are not similar in any identifiable way—one is centered on the perfect implementation of the factory-sounds beat that was so fashionable in the mid ‘90s, while the other is centered on a dark bass synth melody that takes center stage while various percussive noises skitter throughout the aural landscape—and yet it is that 15-year-old track that comes to mind every time “ilanders” comes through the speakers. Part of it is a general sense of alien despair that both manage to evoke, but mostly, it’s the idea that someone could hear this track, isolated from the rest of the Autechre catalog, and suddenly be interested in everything else the duo has to offer.
[b]Rob Brown[/b], one half of duo [b]Autechre[/b], was an architect by training, which perhaps goes some way in explaining the highly stylised, hyper-structural awareness that underpins their electronica. In their 19 years of activity, they’ve swung from epochal experimentalism to the ear-splittingly unlistenable. So it is that [b]‘Oversteps’[/b] has its erratic, car-spinning-out-of-control moments but is nonetheless an enticing ‘Welcome’ billboard for their sometimes harrowing, often hopeful City Of Sound.
Autechre’s music is brazenly abstract. I don’t use the word “abstract” as a warning, just as an acknowledgment that the unique pleasures offered by albums like Draft 7.30 have an airy and intellectual substance to them. The music behaves according to human tropes: tension and release, obedience and rebellion, the imperfect repetitions of imperfect memories; but it doesn’t feel human in any conventional sense.
Old dogs can learn new tricks... Rob Brown and Sean Booth’s tenth album as Autechre sees them take another stylistic turn from the spiky electronic vignettes of ‘Quaristice’. While hardly what you’d call commercial, ‘Oversteps’ contains some of the pair’s most approachable material for aeons, with their usual alien and sometimes hostile soundscapes peppered with vibrant melodies, particularly on the swirling brooding ambience of ‘Ilandrers’ and bright, fizzing ‘Treale’.
Despite their prowess with programming, Sean Booth and Rob Brown have been critics' darlings since the birth of IDM because their music is interesting -- not just innovative. Whether long ("Bike") or criminally short ("Eutow"), early Autechre tracks gained praise because they were brilliantly moody and memorably melodic. Oversteps, the duo's tenth full-length in 20 years, is more of the same (in a good way).
Sean Booth and Rob Brown, better known collaboratively as Autechre, have been making music together for over 20 years now. The pair’s reputation as pioneers of electronic music is relatively uncontested, and rightly so. Frequently challenging and always intriguing, Autechre’s relentless experimentation and manipulation of linear sounds forces us to ask questions about our aural habits and our approach to music in general.
After more than two decades of recording together as Autechre, Sean Booth and Rob Brown can still create the aural equivalent of whiplash if they want to, or showcase a deep knowledge of dance music. The production duo's energetic 12-hour online radio broadcast from earlier this month-- joyfully tweeted about and linked to by fans-- was a massive, almost exhausting display of influences and favorites. Floating between Coil and Lord Quas, the mix inspired someone to crowdsource the track list on Google Docs.
They continue to test themselves and listeners alike with stunningly intricate results. Adam Kennedy 2010 Despite what over-analytical spoilsports might have you believe, Rochdale masters of electronic experimentation Autechre are a uniquely visceral entity. At their most tangible, indeed, the duo – long-time pals Sean Booth and Rob Brown – are less mathematical, intelligent dance music nightmare, more punk-spirited joy to behold.