Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Dance & Electronic, World Music, Special Interest, Pop
Autechre return with Quaristice, a vast, sprawling masterpiece that will galvanize their dedicated and sizable fanbase. With the Designers Republic back at the helm of art direction, Quaristice will be an album that impres... more »
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Autechre return with Quaristice, a vast, sprawling masterpiece that will galvanize their dedicated and sizable fanbase. With the Designers Republic back at the helm of art direction, Quaristice will be an album that impresses sonically but also visually. This warmer analog masterpiece recalls some of Autechre's most classic material. Quaristice is an enveloping blanket of Autechre's skewed sound science.
Mike Newmark | Tarzana, CA United States | 03/04/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Fifteen years is a long time for any musician to stay in the game, but it's especially difficult in electronica. The reason is obvious: Computer programs and modulation technologies advance so rapidly that yesterday's fresh sounds become today's moldy oldies. Ironically, the 15-year-old Autechre (Sean Booth and Rob Brown from Sheffield, England) has remained a fixture not by reinventing itself with changing times, but by adhering rigidly to a single aesthetic as though time didn't exist. With their metalloid beats intersecting the synthetic (and sometimes surprisingly emotive) whines of a computer mainframe, Autechre always reminds me of a word that starts with the same letter: "artificial." This is certainly not a bad thing, and Booth and Brown's revelatory brand of artificiality has turned them into leaders of the Intelligent Dance Music (IDM) subgenre.
After the millennium, Autechre came to be unfortunately and universally associated with another word: "inaccessible." Confield (2001), Draft 7.30 (2003) and Untilted (2005) weren't necessarily the most difficult albums of their time (ever heard Yasunao Tone's Solo for Wounded CD?), but for mainstream electronica they were as stark and unexpressive as it got. They may have worked as endorsements for technology and Booth and Brown's considerable programming skills, but as music? Quaristice is different. Their Untilted tour in 2005 lasted longer than they had anticipated, so the songs on Quaristice were written whenever Booth and Brown felt like opening up their laptops during commutes. Instead of 10 stuffy, extremely labored-over tracks à la Draft 7.30, we get 20 moderately labored-over vignettes that cumulatively feel like an Autechre live set. And because these tracks were created contiguously, Booth and Brown were likely aware of repeating themselves, which explains why Quaristice leaps from idea to idea without ever really looking back.
As diverse as Quaristice is, the most attractive thing about it is that it's tuneful. It's not dominated by melody the way Incunabula (1993) and Amber (1994) were, but after Autechre's previous atonal records, Quaristice can only be described as a relief. In fact, opener "Altibzz" is nothing but melody: A sighing synthesizer reverberates in empty space, soon joined by a second one an octave higher, and the effect can be powerfully nostalgic. It's a time warp to 10 years ago, when IDM was a household term and techno was written for headphone listening, and I love that Autechre sat down to make this retro track as though they were writing the intro to Artificial Intelligence 3. Nothing else approaches "Altibzz" in terms of emotionality, but the rest of Quaristice retains this "classic IDM" sound; "IO" layers a skittering beat, a lopsided melody from a dated electric piano and a distorted, extraterrestrial radio transmission. Oh sure, we've heard this all before, but it's a kick to revisit it on Autechre's perfectionist terms.
"Altibzz" is also a red herring because it's an introduction, and the two beatless closers, "Notwo" and "Outh9X," sound like "Altibzz" turning around and walking away. So if Quaristice has a beginning, a middle and an end, does it tell a story? I've been searching for a while and I haven't found one; it may just be that 20 vignettes need some kind of structure to keep them from becoming an amoeba. Listeners could theoretically approach Quaristice by diving into the middle and choosing a song at random (the track titles, as is Autechre's wont, signify nothing), and if they don't like it, the next one is bound to be better. Besides "Altibzz" and "IO," undergoing this process yielded "Simmm," "bnc Castl" and "chenc9" as my favorites, though all for different reasons. "Simmm" is driven by a percussive ditty seemingly played with silverware; "bnc Castl" is a quirky robot boogie that wouldn't be out of place on an IDM-inspired children's album; and the beats on "chenc9" mirror the coolest ones on Untilted, paired with an ominous melody chiming at the upper register like something you'd hear on Tri Repetae (1995).
Ah, Tri Repetae. Strange that I haven't mentioned this album until now, since it was, and remains, Autechre's one and only masterpiece. Falling somewhere in between the tune-driven Amber and the utterly tuneless Confield, Tri Repetae was both catchy and challenging, setting its crunchy beats and synthetic melodies in equilibrium. On the one hand, Quaristice can seem like Autechre's move to achieving that balance again. On the other hand, it's unlikely that we'll ever get another "Dael" or "Eutow," and Quaristice's sketch-like nature and rapid-fire sequencing keep it free of classic tracks. The very fact that Quaristice references the Autechre of old, however, may mean that this is where fans who jumped off the boat post-millennium will realize why they fell in love with the duo in the first place. Autechre has always been a universe unto itself, unaffected by fame and trends, but it's especially apparent here, on the group's most backward-looking record. Heard in the context of 2008 electronica, Quaristice sounds stodgy and dated and is all the better for it."
The change in Autechre that i've been waiting for
M. Randall | Allen Park, MI | 03/05/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'll keep this review short. Autechre is my favorite artist in the so called "IDM" genre. I own every album, EP and peel session and I love them all. I love how they progressed their sound through the years and became more and more chaotic. However, I did feel that they reached their limit on pushing the boundary with Untilted. I assumed with the 3 year gap (usually only 1 or 2 years) between albums that they were done.. Getting ready to announce their retirement. I was very happy that I was proved wrong but at the same time I cringed because I didn't want more chaotic madness. Well I got my wish. Quaristice is much more accessible and even ambient compared to anything they've released in years. Anyone who enjoyed their mid nineties sound will appreciate what they've done with their new album. Autechre... Still godly"
Headphone Commute Review
Headphone Commute | 02/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's hard to believe that Sean Booth and Rob Brown have been experimenting with sound for over 16 years now, ever since their first release, Incunabula, on Warp Records. It is perhaps their unique programming approach to analog synths, custom Max/MSP patches, micro granular effects, and mathematical rhythms, that pushed the envelope of sound exploration to the common studio techniques of today. Can the UK duo continue and reinvent the sound? I'm on my fifth listen of Quaristice, Autechre's 9th album, and the definitive answer is: yes. The twenty tracks on a digital release which I snatched from bleep (including exclusive artwork for each track!), maintain the indisputably unique Autechre sound. The beats are still chopped, the sound waves decomposed, and the structure erratically twisted. But unlike Autechre's previous LP, Untilted, this 2008 release is warmer, less noisier, and at times even melodic (there are even strings buried deep in one of the tracks). The genre starts to glide closer to abstract and minimal ambient, with an occasional glitchy quality of other worldliness. If by some miracle this is your first Autechre experience, brace yourself for a unique and unforgettable experience, if you can hold on. For the rest of us, it's just a necessity for our complete anthology. Too bad that the special, limited to 1000 copies edition, with an additional CD and a photo-etched steel casing sold out within the first 12 hours of announcement."