Autechre Makes Electronic Music for the Classically Minded
Experimental electronic music duo Autechre, composed of Mancunians Rob Brown and Sean Booth, make intelligent dance music for the discerning listener. Active since 1987, their extensive discography comprises artful compositions mirroring the scope of contemporary classical.
Veterans of champion electronic label Warp, the pair began releasing albums in the early '90s. Tri Repetae from 1995 is still held high as one of the most unique works of experimental electronica. The later '90s brought Chiastic Slide and LP5, the group eclipsing all contemporaries with their technical, glitchy abstractions. As Brown described to blog MusicOMH, the duo's modus operandi was simply to create music of their own idiom:
"Our language is our own art. You can blur the lines a bit but you're at risk if you depend a whole career on it. It doesn't stop us exploring sound, though. We do feel attracted to emotion, scope and scale. But as far as elaborating on what we aim to project, I think that's for the listener."
Confield, released in 2001, presented a labyrinthine percussive symphony birthed from algorithmic composition. Quaristice (2008) showed the duo as a synthesizer jam band. Recent albums are a distillation of their ambient and glitch roots, always layering incomprehensible sounds over alien beats.
In an interview with Thump, Booth summed up Autechre's outlook on music's mechanics, explaining the appeal of foreign sounds and ambiguous classifications:
"I can remember how I learned about how music worked -- the dynamics of it. You can navigate this electronic music space, and it's flexible and it overlaps; it's interchangeable and disposable, too. Music is like that to me: it's this muck of things that relate to other things. I'm drawn to tracks that are hard-to-define, where you're not sure what the thing is genre-wise."
Autechre is an unmatched musical outfit, deserving a place among experimental greats like Steve Reich and Josef Anton Riedl for changing the entire shape of a genre. The group has taken the academic, compositional logistics of classical and reconstructed modern experimental with sounds impossible in acoustic-based art music.
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