|How To Conquer Fear, RTomens, 2016|
more pictures over here
Are Autechre necessary? I wonder...
In this age of countless small sonic statements streaming across all digital platforms Autechre come across as dinosaurs from the pre-digital era. Now their latest, elseq 1-5, takes the form of five albums...like the digital era equivalent of a Yes triple album? By being all modern and making it digital only (not their first) at least they avoid the old world spectacle of what would be a 5 (6? 7?, who's counted the minutes?) album vinyl box.
So it feels like a Big Statement, the kind a Big Band (no, not like Ellington) would have made once upon a time, before even Autechre were born (1891, or 1991) and their longevity (25 years!) itself seems to automatically add wrinkles to their sound, their very existence.
Whilst it costs next to nowt to put an album out these days, into the endless stream wherein your music will more likely drown rather than swim into the lives of many people, what that does it test the true creativity of the artists. After all, with no money to be made, why else are all these people doing it? I actually mean creative endurance which, we might assume, is the mark of a genuinely creative person as opposed to the creative whim of someone dabbling in music just because they can, having downloaded the software.
Whereas in the old days bands depended on the label to keep them alive and push the product before giving them the elbow once sales dropped below a sustainable level. It was a cruel world, right enough. Some say, even since Punk, it was a better way, a way of sorting the 'men from 'the boys', if you like, to which I say 'bollocks'. It was the only way except for total independence, i.e. setting up your own label to promote your music. Costs, costs, costs...the material world of card sleeves, vinyl, cassette, rehearsal rooms, recording studios...it's a wonder we had any music, never mind so much great music.
Is greatness redundant? I think it is, judging by most of what I hear. A subjective notion, of course. Music comes and goes so easily, weighs nothing and often costs nothing; it's as if it barely exists....my thoughts barely exist...I'm having to catch them as they spin out on the ether from this wrinkled hard drive in my head...
Autechre sustain the notion of Greatness, Great Bands (yes I know 'band' isn't appropriate) just like the old days. There are many Big Acts today, I know, but who except the numbskull gives them their time? They thrive on sheeplethink, naturally. Capitalism demands celebrity materialism. People willingly maintain it. Autechre's 'awkward' techno has attracted a big fan base, all boys, every one, poring over those cryptic titles, twisting Sean Booth and Rob Brown’s sonic Rubik's Cubes over and over like true obsessives...perhaps only Aphex Twin can rival them for techboy adulation.
Well is elseq 1-5 any good? Stupid question, which you'll have already answered if you're interested. It's Autechre and the Autechre machine rolls on, regardless of acclaim (which it always gets), hovering low, hoovering up every electronic variation over quarter of a century and recalibrating Techno, Hip-hop (beats), Glitch, Drum 'n' Bass, Drone whatever, literally remixing (remember post-Rock?) to make it all Autechre. It was sturdily built to start with, but at the same time, a shape shifting entity, fluid, enigmatic, rather than heavy, weighed down with specific genre definition.
The long tracks are too long, though, but that's the nature of heroic individualism, eh? No-one's going to edit for them and no-one's going to say "Twenty-seven minutes? Too much!" to their faces. As much as I like the idea of an electronic Punk revolution that will make Autechre look like Yes, one that breaks out of a ghetto and sparks a lot of activity, it's not happening. Autechre should be dinosaurs, but the plain fact is they're still making interesting music, the kind that stands out in shuffle mode...because it's Autechre and they remain unique.
(they also seems to be control freaks because no tracks are available on YouTube, one having been there and gone, presumably blocked by the 'authority', which is crap and smacks of corporate control)