elseq et al
June 8, 2016 11:59 PM   Subscribe

So one of the great musical surprises of the year was Autechre dropping elseq 1-5, an... album, I think? - comprising five parts, FOUR HOURS in total, of uncompromising, intricately programmed algorithmic music. Not to editorialize, but it's really something. A challenge of an album by any measure, but also deeply rewarding and unutterably gorgeous. While they are usually pretty hermetic, Rob and Sean of Autechre have occasionally proven surprisingly open and willing to explain themselves. In 2013 there was an enormous, 1,500 question AMA on the music site WATMM, and on the heels of the new album, there's a long, wide-ranging interview on Resident Advisor covering their entire history, philosophy, method of working, and much more (spoiler: they'd probably work with Kanye if he called). It's fascinating. Dive in!

Regarding elseq 1-5's reception: John Twells (aka Xela) wrote a review for FACT Magazine: "[I]t makes Confield sound like S Club 7. What we’re presented is a delightfully dangerous record packed to the gills with impenetrable electronic experimentation – and if that sounds like something you’re not willing to endure, you might want to wait a few years for it to settle first.... Autechre have a handle on abrasive sound design that would bury the majority of your 'post-club' poseurs six feet under the digital dirt. There’s no Ableton plugin for this shit: trust me, I’ve been searching for years."

Meanwhile, Pitchfork calls them "a sort of post-human jam band," which is as accurate as anything else you could say.

Here's a photo of them performing on the most recent tour.

Curious where to even begin with Autechre? FACT's got you covered.
posted by naju (19 comments total) 68 users marked this as a favorite
I dunno, can't agree with Twells' callout of pendulu casual as the highlight of the album AT ALL, but I guess people go to Autechre looking for different things; mesh cinereaL is much more my kind of jam.
posted by juv3nal at 12:20 AM on June 9, 2016

"Freuleaux" is it, for me - maybe the most beautiful thing I've heard all year.

(Wish there were Youtube vids for these... alas. Things seem pretty locked up.)
posted by naju at 12:28 AM on June 9, 2016

Well there is the sample player thingy on the store itself. For example.
posted by juv3nal at 12:48 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

"delightfully dangerous" indeed. much appreciated, naju.
posted by sapagan at 12:56 AM on June 9, 2016

New speakers. New amplifier. New Autechre. New neighbours.

What could possibly go wrong?
posted by Devonian at 2:10 AM on June 9, 2016 [19 favorites]

(top post, btw. The long interview is really interesting, especially towards the end where they go into their production system. I want a map of that...)
posted by Devonian at 4:03 AM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

"I don't think any of the artists came into it thinking 'we've got a scene' though. We were just a bunch of kids who liked doing acid and staying in listening to weird music, which isn't very socially compatible."

These guys are so awesome. Love them, love their music, love their longevity.
posted by blucevalo at 4:22 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Makes Confield seem like S Club 7? Jesus. I am so whitebread; I think Incunabula was the best thing they've ever done!
posted by smoke at 4:49 AM on June 9, 2016

FOUR HOURS in total... [More inside]

*clicks with trepidation*
posted by asok at 5:21 AM on June 9, 2016

Too many notes.
posted by beerperson at 6:37 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Too many notes.

OK I removed half of them, try again.
posted by Theta States at 6:47 AM on June 9, 2016

There's only 12 of them
posted by thelonius at 6:58 AM on June 9, 2016

Now there are 6
posted by beerperson at 7:41 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've been listening to Elseq on repeat since it came out. It's really grown on me. It doesn't quite work as a coherent album to me, more of a collection of different unassociated pieces. But many are quite good.

My favorite track is 7th slip, it has this really interesting use of record scratches. I also like the menacing unresolved nature of spTh.

As noted above, they've got Youtube / etc tightly locked down so there's no way to share previews other than the very first track, "feed1", which IMHO is one of the weakest and least approachable. Your best bet is playing the samples from the Bleep store.
posted by Nelson at 7:54 AM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've never followed Autechre too closely, but I've been listening to them off and on since the first Artificial Intelligence compilation on Warp Records, back in '92. Incunabula and Amber were also in regular rotation on my CD player.

Back then, "IDM" was a much more melodic, accessible, chillout thing – it was certainly artier and less dancefloor-oriented than straight-ahead oonsta-oonsta techno, but it wasn't especially challenging or experimental. It wasn't until '95 or so that "IDM" started to mean "drill & bass" and "spastic / needly abstract noises for dudes with shaved heads and goatees".

Autechre were certainly at the forefront of that shift. (Though honestly, I always preferred the earlier stuff.)

(That original IDM sound and spirit – as exemplified by the Artificial Intelligence compilations – isn't really around anymore. Maybe electronic music has been so thoroughly absorbed into, well, music that the notion of "electronic listening music" is kinda redundant. )

Anyway, I saw Autechre a few months ago, and it was...kind of awesome. Intricate, rippling webs of alien rhythms. I definitely appreciated hearing it loud, and in the dark (no visual distractions means you stay more focused on the music). I recommend it if you get the chance.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:04 AM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Saw Autechre in Orlando for their Confield tour. The other acts were stellar: Nobukazu Takemura, Prefuse 73, and Tortoise. But Autechre was unlike anything I had experienced before or since. Though I had been listening to Confield I was completely unprepared. For their set the venue went dark, with only a faint light emanating from their laptops. Their music(?) blew my mind, literally! (well no, but almost). The sound completely enveloped me and half way through I got tunnel vision. All I could see were Rob and Sean's glowing faces suspended in a dark ether. Looking elsewhere I was blind. Panic ensued. Turned to my friend right beside me and demanded he lead me away. I held on to his shoulder and stumbled to the back. Within half a minute my vision was restored. Awe inducing; without a doubt the most singular musical experience of my life. And in case anyone is wondering, at the beginning of their set -though having a few drinks before entering the club (underage so no more once inside)- I was stone sober.

Great post naju! Can't wait to dive into elseq.
posted by blairsyprofane at 8:41 AM on June 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

OK, I really want elseq, but I've stopped buying digitally distributed music for the time being.
posted by Dr. Twist at 11:18 AM on June 9, 2016

Bleep (the Warp Records online storefront) was a pretty nice place to buy digitally distributed music last I checked.
posted by atoxyl at 11:33 AM on June 9, 2016

That original IDM sound and spirit – as exemplified by the Artificial Intelligence compilations – isn't really around anymore.

Have you heard Geskia? It's not the artificial intelligence sound but it hits the "melodic, accessible, chillout" notes. I'd call it instrumental glitch pop or something?

I'm a big fan of Geskia.
posted by juv3nal at 8:41 PM on June 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

« Older Tracking Down August Belmont Jr.’s Private NYC...   |   The Story of India Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments