Friday, January 06, 2006

Music is Math...

Autechre - Crystel

Is it weird to continue buying every release by an artist long after you have ceased to understand where they are coming from? Well, this is the situation I find myself in with Autechre. They first entered into my consciousness with two tracks on the seminal Artificial Intelligence compilation on Warp back in 1992. As a teenager, I was obsessed with electro music, the kind that is now called old school but at the time was aural alien modernity. Autechre seemed the natural progression from these sounds, albeit slightly more complex and demanding. 'Crystel' from the aforementioned AI comp sounds like it was constructed on a four-track with the same machines used by the duo's earliest influences (Man Parrish, Mantronix, Egyptian Lover). Cymbals clink and metal clanks, an 808 rumbles, a bassline ominously rises, then a chirping acid line weaves its way in and out of the percussive rattle before the whole thing grinds to a halt. Simple, warm, funky even - I was instantly smitten.

Autechre lost me with the release of Chiastic Slide in 1997. I found it hard to listen to and occasionally boring, but repressed this realisation in the hope I was in the wrong frame of mind to enjoy it. God knows I tried to get into it, but after multiple listens in various altered states, I had to accept defeat - I had no interest in knowing what algebra might sound like. It felt like I had been invited to stay at a good friend's house only to discover it locked up tight, with not even a window ajar round the back for me to sneak in through and make myself at home. I blamed my nascent ears and brain and their need for some form of hook to reel me in, or at least a tune to hum. I know that many people can find clear patterns, regular rhythms and beautiful melodies in their recent output, but all I hear is cold, inaccessible chaos.

Despite this, I have continued to buy everything they release as they're far too important to me to give up on just like that. I'm hoping that at some point over the next few decades I'll reach a new level of musical maturity where it will finally make sense to me. Maybe when I'm 60 I'll get a wireless pair of Sennheiser headphones for my birthday and will settle back with a glass of something expensive and press play on Confield or Draft 7.30 and everything will fall into place.

Buy Autechre mp3s at Bleep
Buy Autechre albums at Warpmart
Visit - Autechre


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