Monday, April 10, 2006

Authechre Live Review: "There's A Bit Of Screamo In That Lad."

Autechre are firmly entrenched in the production of a beguiling stripped down austerity that in part defines the complexity of IDM. A musical genre that usurps the dancefloor demand for 4x4 and gives it a blood transfusion of put upon intelligence. Intelligent Dance Music - as if everything else was pig ignorant and the random splutterings of cultural morans with out of control musical equipment. An almost mystical musical form that breeds a cult like obsession among caricitured, hairy faced slap head muso types slung into the straps of record bags across the globe. For traditional musical tastes seeking to explore the realm of electronica, it is the aura around a duo like Autechre that dazes and confuses. If IDM is a mystified form then Autechre who have sat perched on the lofty heights of Warp since its pioneering Artificial Intelligence releases defined the genre in the early 90's, certainly are among its Jedi knights.

Live Autechre really forego anything thats obvious in musical structure or performance, the very format of a live show goes out the window. The severe juxtaposition of a Rob Hall set overviewing the legacy of dance music cushioned the starkness of the headliners before and after their show. In the middle of his blinding mixing, there was Autechre. The lights, gone the venue immersed in a smoke machine laden glow and two faces aborbed in hardware and a laptop. Its impossible to accurately reflect what they were playing, opening with a surprisingly upbeat bass impulse similar to "Clipper" from Ti Repetae, before veering into an industrialised reggae that seemed in parts to take something from the clatter of dubstep, while later breaks struggled with repressed harmonies on tracks that echoed the overloaded patterns of beats falling over themselves like the opening of "Augmatic Disport " from Untilted. Scratching and struggling bouncing pins falling across a sheet of galvinised metal battled with the stuttered harmonies of a track like "Fermium."

Holding out hope for the euphoric desolation of "Basscadet" was as worthwhile as screaming at a certain Parisian grave for "The End." Hall came on seconds after they left the stage with some ripping Orbital as the pent up frustration of the crowd finally let loose. He ripped samples, momentary glimpses of rave piano breaks or the "fire" shout from The Prodigy's Experience and easily pushed them together along some very upbeat celebratory techno, before cranking it up a notch via some staunchly weight laden drum and bass. Only to teasingly drop back to a simple dub track before allowing it rip again.

It may be heretical to say it, but the question really was there as to what was more preferrable; Hall or the tenative experience of being stuck in a blackened room with the audio installation that is Autechre? In parts you are put in mind of that moment in the The Child Who Smelt Funny when the social engineers bask in the warm hum of an open fridge. Lose yourself for a moment in it, and you are swept away amidst this overwhelming dense clashing of influences, sounds and feelings. The desire to paraphrase Kid 606's comments on Luke Vibert, and wish IDM the best in kissing my punk white boy ass could be no more than hollow words. As like that, its all over - with a track that summoned up the template of a screaming hardcore punk structure being strangled in tinfoil, left starved of oxygen under the apathetic green glow of a venue's exit sign. And they were gone, unreal.

Update! A mp3 of this gig has made its way onto the net and should be downloadable over here for a short time.
Elsewhere: Pitchfork carried a
good interview with Autechre back in November and Guttabreakz has a nice post a book published on the rise of Warp here. If breakcore ever needed a visual accomplice, or you wanted to induce simultaneous epileptic seizures in a class room of childers, its found it in this. For anyone who missed The Evens like myself, there's an interview and some tracks over here.

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Great review of the gig and love the site. I have been an interested follower on Autechre's music rather than a dedicated fan over the years but even still I was very disappointed with the gig. As you eludued to it is almost a heracy to lavish anything other than glowing praise on the performance even though the gig was far from exceptional. We need more artists to push out the boundaries of conventinal music and reach a wider audience but sometimes I think Autechre and their fans are too full of their own importance and even more annoying is the pseudo-intelectual reverance surrounding IDM artists!

Aphex twin is another culprit of this, a few years ago I went along to see him, again in the TMBC. I walked out of the place after people started appluading uproarously when he scratched the record needle over sand paper for a solid five minutes...
sand paper? i don't remember that... Going by reviews,That AFX gig was not half as indulgent as autechre. He played til 4 in the morning and the TBMC staff set off a fire alarm to get him off stage. It was a fun gig
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