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Oversteps

4.2 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 23, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

Autechre will see the release of their 10th studio album, ''Oversteps'' this March 23rd. One of the most distinctive and revered electronic groups of all time, they've previously been commissioned to remix the likes of Stereolab, Tortoise and Surgeon, and have notably been feted by Thom Yorke, with the Radiohead frontman stating on his official website that their 2001 album ''Confield'' ''made my head spin'', and citing Booth and Brown's work as an influence on his own Kid A and Amnesiac (of course Autechre themselves admit indifference to this).
Their latest work, still very much an Autechre record, shows an oft-overlooked playfulness and a rarely mentioned musicality that comes to the fore-front, in what could be described as their most accessible work to date. Between the layers of cold digital pings and fuzzed out tones, there are true chord changes and warm soundscapes being built from the ground up. As freelance writer David Abravanel (New York Magazine, Big Shot, Pop Matters..etc.) put it, Autechre's previous release, Quarterstice was ''the cool In A Silent Way to the more aggressively beautiful Bitches Brew of Oversteps. There are tracks here with the kind of ambient techno melodies that have scarce been present on an Autechre album since 1995's Tri Repetae. Where part of the thrill of Quaristice was the unmistakable sound of the duo wrestling with where to fit all the pieces, Oversteps beams with confidence; everything is fleshed out here.''
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 23, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warp Records
  • ASIN: B0035BMK5Y
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,734 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
The pre-release buzz from both fans and critics of Autechre's music on their 10th album, Oversteps, had some comparisons to their earliest work, more specifically their sophomore album Amber. While not totally off-base that comparison is merely a reference point for the direction the band has now embarked upon. Like the aforementioned classic, Oversteps could be heard as a return to form, but that would diminish the great records that the duo has released leading up to this point.

For once the focus is not on Autechre's trademark mind-bending warped beats and percussion, but the melodic notes that have been more often than not pushed back into the mix throughout the band's past discography. Perhaps taking a cue from the positive responses from the minority of ambient tracks that graced 2008's Quaristice, the new album now has these in greater abundance. It's an exciting change of pace. The beats, when they do appear, have greater punch to it. All the tracks (whether with beats or not) are dense, restless and convey a variety of emotion.

I find it difficult to explain Autechre's songs into words, partly because the elements that are referenced ("techno", "hip-hop", etc) are filtered into highly fractured compositions. I can only say that "r ess", "see on see", "treale", "qplay", "d-sho qub", "redfall" and "yuop" made strong favorable impressions on first listen and I'm sure will be joined by many others with repeated spins.
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Format: Audio CD
I had been getting pretty sick of autechre over the years, more and more thinking that they might have run their course, and then this album comes along which was a completely unexpected and most welcome surprise. It's still autechre, for sure, and some of the patterns and loops are familiar, but for some reason it rings fresh and really hits the spot.

If I had to describe this album in a nutshell I might say "a more groovy update of the Terminator soundtrack". There are some great, melodic and dare-I-say borderline "emotional" musical sequences on here that help everything to resonate more than their other recent efforts. But it also still has that beautifully cold and calculated menace to it, like only these guys can do. It's a fine line, but they walk it better here than at any time in recent memory.
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Format: Audio CD
Personally I don't find this album to be nearly as impressive as their more recent EXAI, which I heard first. It's not bad, it's just not as challenging -- it doesn't deliver quite the rush I expect from Booth and Brown.

Tri Repetae++ was the best of all the IDM/ambient/electronica I listened to back in the mid-Nineties, with its distinctive alien machine sound. One of the developments that caused me to lose interest in Autechre was their participation in the turn toward the glitch style. I can certainly hear why many people think OVERSTEPS is their best in years because it flows more organically and is less glitch-ridden than some of the previous albums -- not that I've heard them all, but that's what I've read in reviews over the years.

To my ears, though, there are too many passages here that sound like ambient lounge music. If that's what you're after, then go for it! I enjoy it now and then.

As for me, Booth and Brown have created another masterpiece comparable to TRI REPETAE with their latest, EXAI, which sounds substantially more complex and has the kick I'm looking for.

(verified purchase from a large brick-and-mortar bookstore)
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Honestly, I never liked Autechre before. I know I'm uncultured, but I always thought they were: cold, without the emotional delicacy of early Aphex Twin; mechanical, with simplistic rhythms stretching out interminably with little variation; and pretentious, passing off their melodic deficiencies as brilliant avant-gardism. But before you get angry, think of how humbled I was when I heard Oversteps, which is their best album, if not ever, then certainly since Amber.

I realized from the first song that this wasn't business as usual. "R Ess" begins the album with a glacially calm keyboard sound, best described by the adjective "regal." This melody fades in excruciatingly slowly, but the slow pace is amazingly effective -- the sound is so clean and soothing, I got really into each repetition and wanted it to keep going. Eventually it stops; the rest of the track consists of very quiet background noise, with fragments of the original lead occasionally breaking through, like isolated recollections of some fantastic experience.

But after all, Oversteps isn't a radical departure. The very next song, "Ilanders," is full of loud, burbling acid-bass, almost drowning out the gentler melodic elements laid on top. It's pretty much the quintessential Artificial Intelligence sound, typical of early Autechre.
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