Sunday, November 21, 2010

Autechre - "Pen Expers"

Pen Expers

It's hard to pick a track to highlight by British computer-music kings Autechre, since it's tough to remember what the hell happens in any of them (say nothing of their nonce titles).  This one, from the devastating-all-the-way-through Confield, stands out for starting with what could almost be a hip hop break beat.  Of course it's cut up almost instantly and sent through some mysterious sonic filtration system, but it still maintains boom-bip syncopation and solid head-nod-ability for the first couple minutes.  

Autechre are masters of the slowly evolving abstract transition, and at 1:22 some of the sandpaper sounds take on pitches, suggesting and slowly building into the power-ballad chord progression that almost fully shows itself around 2:48.  For the next few minutes the chords continue to gesture towards a ballad while the brilliant complexity of the funky scratchy sounds make you think that maybe all free-out drummers should just give up and learn how to program. 

At 5:30 there's a rare abrupt change and we get a reprise of the boom-bip part from the beginning.  It's much more chopped up, though, in the manner of Squarepusher and other lesser proponents of this genre.  No major diss on Squarepusher/Warp/et al, but for my money no one has used the ability of computer software to make abstract sound with as much beauty and funkiness and tact as these guys.

This is not a genre I'm on top of, though, so anyone reading who can recommend something on par with this track, I welcome recommendations.

1 comment:

  1. The first Autechre track I ever heard was Kalpol Introl, and I think it will always be my favorite. I don't think I had ever heard IDM at all, let alone beatless electronic music -- like that track actually doesn't have drum sounds. It's really haunting and sad sounding, and I had a revelatory moment listening to it possibly for the first time on headphones on the New Brunswick train platform at night, where I was like "Whoa, electronic music can do THIS." I know, I know, get your own blog jack.