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Autechre:: Untilted (Album Review)

A significant piece of Autechre’s appeal lies in their deliberate obfuscation. At its best, the British duo’s music seeps with the sensation that, beneath its already complex, vertiginous surfaces there hide still further multitudes, packed in rusted wire and just out of sight. As with poetry, you need to read between the lines. It’s an unusual aural trick, and one of the reasons that the duo seem to have a staying power and cult following that similarly abstruse artists could only dream of. After reaching a critical and popular zenith a full decade ago (!) with Tri Repetae, the band’s subsequent music has fractured and refracted itself into a truly avant-garde dance music. On Untilted, their ninth full-length album (at 60 minutes, 1999’s Ep7 is one in name only), the duo continue to strip away most vestiges of melody, harmony and tone in favor of severe, desiccated percussion. The results are not for the faint of heart – beats stutter uncomfortably, disappear without warning, and practically scratch out the walls of your speakers from the inside. There is very little else in the mix to hold your attention. Autechre have reinvented the “IDM” wheel at least twice over their career. They don’t look to be doing it again on Untilted. Instead, the duo zooms in on their methodically constructed sound world, wringing out further variations and angles on a harshly lit and ominously seductive theme.
Review by:: Dominic DeLuce