» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Warp Records

Rating: 8.5/10 ?

May 5, 2005
Autechre attack the very philosophical underpinnings of music itself. After all, why should it make sense? Why should it be pleasant to listen to? Should an amiable tune that raises a smile be regarded more highly than a disjointed collection of beats that positively induce nausea and headaches, or vice versa?

Although such questions are rhetorical, peripheral dwellers of the musical community have continued to confront them. The so-called 'modern' era has presented an ideal context for exploitation of the perverse beauty that may reside in drones and hypnotic rhythms, initially revealed by the likes of La Monte Young. Kids are granted virtually unlimited access to new music, and it follows that they are no longer wholeheartedly fulfilled by the superficial rewards brought by a melody they can whistle on the school bus.

Whether or not there exists a line to indicate the separation of 'music' from 'tuneless noise', with Untilted, it appears that Autechre have crossed it. Whereas most artists' progressive careers can be perceived as gradual 'mellow-outs' as abrasive material gives way to radio-friendly pop music, Autechre's Sean Booth and Rob Brown have done the exact opposite. Their early albums, Incunabula and Amber - both of which over a decade old - are, without doubt, the most conventionally melodic Autechre albums.

However, since 2001's Confield, Autechre appears to have paid greater attention to the way in which each song unravels, as a collection of broken beats and jittery samples rather than to the individual beats themselves. Untilted follows suit and rounds off a progression that marks a refinement as well as an intensification.

"Lcc" initially demonstrates Booth and Brown's refusals to compromise, as the pounding snare and rumbling clunks are instantly recognisable as Autechre. A schizzy beat suppresses a gloomy drone which, when on the brink of collapse as it straddles time-signatures, descends into a slow distorted murmur. "Ipacial Station" is every bit as strung-out, though when the density created by its compressed drum tracks depart toward the end a pulsing keyboard riff is unveiled, much in the same way as a rainbow follows the lifting of a storm. Such moments demonstrate Autechre's ability to harness melody - it occurs infrequently and takes you by surprise.

The opening sequence to "Augamtic Disport" is perhaps Autechre at their most intense. Densely compressed and barely panned at all, it attacks you head-on and erodes the senses without a second thought, before beginning to break up and diminish into a tumult of industrial buzzes that fade in and out, albeit smothering a dark synth pattern that reverberates somewhere in the background.

Booth and Brown take a short trip down memory lane with "Fermium", which carries less weight than the lion's share of Untilted. It provides a deserved breathing-window, and, relying on a well thought out sequence of trebly samples and arcade game blips, it represents a brief return to the roots of their early material.

Where inexperienced programmers might collapse under the weight of such complexity, Autechre utilize it with precision. As punishing as it is, it never sounds too cluttered. There often resides a fairly simple pattern, providing a solid backbone for the layers of cut-up beats and factory-esque noises and supporting the substance of what makes Untilted tick.

For those who were unsure of how this album would sound upon its release, chances are it's what fans most expected. Although Untilted incorporates the fierceness of past outings, it is refined to the point that its intricacy can only be unveiled if it wishes so. For that reason, Autechre do more than merely bask in obscurity. They have produced an album that, when given its necessary attention, is clearly appreciable as a tight binding of off-kilter rhythm and sonic collisions that possesses all the inherent beauty of a hummable tune.

Reviewed by Mike Wright
A staff writer based in London, England, Mike Wright is eternally troubled by the American bastardization of the English language.

See other reviews by Mike Wright



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