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Thick fractals of bloops, blips, flutterings, and kerrangs are combined on EP 7, Autechre's least textural, most rabidly experimental release yet. At this point, Autechre's music pretty much exists within its own, idiosyncratic subgenre of the experimental techno subgenre. Their music invites hyperbole rather than external comparison: one could easily imagine that the discordant bleeps of track 4 are the sound of R2D2 flipping out on angel dust or that one segment of track 9 captures the demon baby from It's Alive devouring a microphone. While some tracks approach sublime chaos--where a dense, hard-to-grasp internal order is revealed after multiple listens--most of the pieces are perfectly content to resemble indecipherable alien transmissions. EP 7's 60 abstract, knotty minutes will clear most any dance floor but, by sheer force, cleanse the brain of all but the most primitive functions. It's fabulous. --Mike McGonigal
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Top Customer Reviews
This phrase applies to nearly everything Warp has released in the last 2 years and, in particular, the lastest releases from Autechre. Where they previously created fascinating sonic textures with touches of emotion, they now create unlistenable experiments in noise that induce headaches rather than fascination. Do they own stock in an aspirin company or something?
The dried up talent of Autechre is a sad but clear sign that the golden years of electronica are gone.
So! EP7 May get tagged as the counterpart to LP5, like who Envane & Cichlisuite are companion EP's to Chiastic Slide, but that's just not so. Once you see EP7 as LP6 instead of an extension of LP5, it's much easier to digest. LP5 is basically a pop album, the standard template for glitch IDM. EP7 is the IDM blueprint diced into word salad. It is an arduous task to commit the structure of these tracks to memory. Thus, it is either infinitely intriguing or intensely infuriating depending on your mood. Sometimes (which is most of the time for me, actually), it is the only thoroughly stimulating album around. Other times (which seems to be most of the time for most other folks, I find, it's a haphazard smattering of slapdash stuttering & stoic stammering that's too experimentally noodling to warrant a listen. People who gripe about Autechre abjectly abandoning musical music for garbled DSP-wankery are referring to this album. I can see how they could assert such harsh allegations. I myself asserted them the first time my ears glanced this album for the 30-second duration of the lofi mp3 samples. But once I actually LISTENED to the entire duration of the 1st 5 songs, my head was boppin'! I was really getting into it! I discovered that in addition to the positively groovy cadences, EP7 is chock full of (gasp!) latently scintillating melodies! They were just a bit obscured by all the hoopla. So...? Anyone who says this album is just a juxtaposition of inhuman racket is really just lazy. Yes, it may take more than a couple spins for this disk to work its voodoo, but that's a bargain price to pay for the payoff that comes when you `get' this album! So come on! Autechre deserves a fair chance! Remember how cool Tri Repetae is? Well, EP7 is at least on par with that now classic album. It's not dancing to architecture, it's dancing to the mos' def hip-hop! Listen to "Rpeg", "Outpt", "Dropp", "Maphive 6.1", and "Pir". If you can't find the melody in those songs, you probably couldn't find your way out of a paper bag. If you can't find the other songs to be worthy of at least some moderate head-boppin', then you probably couldn't even find your way into the paper bag in the first place. If you find "Ccec" to be annoying, however, then your mind apparently hasn't totally rotted out your ears just yet. "Ccec" is the only blot I can spot on this otherwise immaculate album. And even then, it's a perfectly groovy song, aside from that confounded blathering vocal sample. And even that vocal sample is fun most of the time, especially when you're completely frustrated and you need to vent. Then I highly recommend blathering along with it. It's a blast!
So the final step in the process of this equation is for me to estimate the tantamount average reaction to this album. My conclusion? EP7 = difficult squared. But as any avidly voracious consumer of fine music knows, the most difficult songs to stomach are often the most rewarding. Just have patience! Someday you will see the absence of light that is EP7.
Now, for those who are still reading, I have a reward: I shall now do a concise track-by-track analysis because I feel this review has hitherto been kinda vague.
"Rpeg" is straight-up squelchy hip-hop driven by a melody played on a synth patch that can only be described as a "robo-Oboe".
"Ccec" sounds like a maniac has hijacked the intercom in a tarmac, and is blathering while paranoid glitch-hop is accompanying him in the background.
"Squeller" is similar in melodic structure to the restless chord progression of "Vose In" from LP5. The only difference is the beat in "Squeller" is much funkier and the percussion sounds sound like a recording of a NASA control station hub going haywire because someone spilled coffee on the main terminal.
"Left Blank" sounds like an interactive control pad in a flight simulator cockpit chirping with delight as its buttons are pressed.
"Outpt" is propelled by a beat that actually has a groovy swing to it. For some reason, it sounds like the kind of song they would play before a futuristic Olympic event, it's very driving, and it swaggers with self-assurance. I suppose it could be the "We Will Rock You" of the future.
"Dropp" begins with a slightly mordant melody that is promptly swallowed by vicious onslaught of steam pistons trying in vain to completely engulf the downtrodden melody. But the melody prevails! Kind of a triumphant track, in it's own low-key way.
"Liccflii" sounds like the themesong to a stowaway running for his life down labyrinthine corridors to evade the ship's security patrol, who are hot on the trail of their quarry because he leaves a distinctly foreign scent. At the end of the song, the alien security guards corner the stowaway and devour him. Seriously, it's nowhere near as terrifying as it sounds, because Autechre puts us in the perspective of a series of cameras on the wall, who are just indifferent witnesses to the chase.
"Maphive 6.1" starts with gigantic drums being beaten as a melody flits about like a fly. The track gradually chills out, until all that is left is the fly buzzing around the marimba player. Yes, this track contains a marimba, even if it is synthetic. It's a very upbeat track, very fun to dance to. And probably the most danceable track on the album...
"Zeiss Contarex" sounds like a field recording of the inside of a UFO hangar. Spacecraft depart & return all throughout the track as a bored mechanic fiddles with a radio until he finds a station broadcasting the most preposterous sample of a Japanese lady gabbing. It must be heard to be believed.
"Netlon Sentinel" contains the most pummeling percussion on the album. It sounds like a starcraft factory. The melody is often as glitchy as the beat, but it still somehow manages to be one of the prettiest on the album.
"Pir", the closer, is absolutely stunning. Yes, the beat is garbled to the point of nearly arrhythmic ruckus, but that soaring melody! That majestic bass! It's beautiful. And it should be proof enough for anyone that this is not music for robots or people devoid of souls. It's very soulful. And you would've missed out on it, had you never given EP7 a chance. I told you it was worthwhile!
Hmm... That's all, I suppose. Enough yapping for today.
Perhaps the extreme abstractness and structure of the music is what I enjoy most about it. It could be that I'm just drawn to blips and bleeps of strange shapes, the audible equivalent of shiny objects. (Understand that you're reading comments written by someone who thinks it's fun to look at fractals. Govern yourselves accordingly.) Whatever the case, it's safe to say that the listener will see himself (or herself) in the music. There is no message being put forward here; only a sound, a series of events that trigger chain reactions in the mind of the listener. You may find yourself drawing mental pictures resembling the ones on the cover. (And those are extremely appropriate visual descriptions of what you'll hear on this CD.) You may imagine obscure shapes floating past you as if carried on some wind. You may imagine a white room with high walls, with sourceless sounds echoing all around. Whatever the case may be, it will likely be more like looking in a mirror than at someone else. This is more than just 'listening music' to be played in the background. The tracks on EP7 are individual soundscapes, each telling a story that is colored, and even partly written, by the listener.