Release Date: Mar 4, 2008
Record label: Warp
"Unified" and "cohesive" would not be two of the first couple hundred words used to describe Quaristice, the first Autechre album since 2005's Untilted. The only aspect that prevents Quaristice from seeming open-ended, as a bunch of tracks splayed arbitrarily across a disc, is that it begins and ends with ambient (as in entirely beat-less) pieces; an arc might gradually become apparent, but that would only be the result of increased familiarity with the sequence of tracks. It's disparate, to say the very least, but that is not at the listener's expense.
Warp Records may not have lost its status as a guarantee of quality, but the stylistic guarantees that used to come with the label are arguably the stuff of history these days. After all, their biggest commercial success has come via some jittery post-punk, while the rosiest critical spoils have gone to some lunatic math-jazz, and two of the stable's finest hopes are channelling performers as diverse as Stevie Wonder and My Bloody Valentine. Where, then, are all the mercurial men doing things prohibited by the Geneva convention to their machinery and naming the results after bad hands at Scrabble?Oh, here they are.
Thirty years from now, when we’re floating in ectoplasm pods wearing nothing but helmets that put you in a virtual nightclub, the background music will probably sound something like Autechre. In that sense you might call British duo Sean Booth and Rob Brown advanced thinkers; they go to painstaking lengths to remove any emotion from their unique and incomparable sound constructions. But there’s such a thing as being too cerebral.
Music is, at its root, a social construct. Historically – which is to say, before the recorded medium – the purpose of music was to enliven social gatherings. Whether serving a ritual function, as a diversion, or as the reason for the gathering itself, music was part of bringing people together. Not to mention, of course, people gathering in order to play music together.