Out of Context

Autechre has nothing to say about Confield -- you'll just have to listen to the music

Autechre's tracks "Crystel" and "The Egg" were standouts of the collection, and the LP the duo released in the accompanying AI series, Incunabula, was one of the first full-length works to push techno and electro-funk into abstract "head-fucking" territory. The IDM list grew up around the Warp cult with Autechre as its patron saint. Topic threads about a particular release, song, or even an individual sound generated by the group would last for weeks. The culture that developed in these communiqués was both refreshingly innocent and eerily obsessive, with fans going out of their way to share discographies and flame one another for not being properly respectful of their heroes. Booth and Brown, who purportedly had no involvement with the list, seemed alternately bemused and aghast at what the Autechre name meant to this strange antiscene.

As fast as the fandom has moved to contain Autechre, the duo has moved to reinvent itself. Keen students of Autechre's numerous stylistic evolutions, Phoenecia's Romulo del Castillo and Josh Kay are quick to dismiss the disappointed grumblings that seem to mark every new release and are currently circulating on fan sites about Confield. "I heard [the disc] for the first time in the airport in Rome, and it wasn't really what I was feeling at the moment," admits del Castillo. "It's like when you go and see a new David Lynch film, and it's like, "Well, it just doesn't have the same flow as Fire Walk with Me, or it has too much of a typical story line.' But then you realize people grow every single day, and sometimes they learn things you haven't learned and based on that you can't really try to put your own human experience into that. The key to listening to Autechre's music is really letting it grow on you."

Many listeners, including this reviewer, also were initially put off by the digital sound of Autechre's untitled 1998 album (referred to as LP5), not expecting such a drastic shift from the gritty Chiastic Slide. But LP5 is now widely considered a standout (currently ranked fourth on autechre.nu's user-selected Top 10 list of the group's recordings).

Autechre's Rob Brown and Sean Booth are hard to fix
Autechre's Rob Brown and Sean Booth are hard to fix

"It's like a really good science-fiction novel," Kay says of first contact with a new Autechre album. "You have no clue what the hell the first chapter's about, because it's alluding to things that will be discovered later. It has nothing to do with the contextual basis that we're about -- our society, our people, the color of our skin, the amount of fingers we have, whatever. But everything makes sense with time."

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