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Sunday, May 9

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Concert Thu Apr 03 2008

Yesterday's Tomorrow Revisited

There was a time, just a few years ago, when Autechre pretty much set and defined what electronic music was and could be. As pioneers of the dubiously-named subgenre known as IDM ("intelligent dance music"), the duo of Sean Booth and Rob Brown were inventively redrawing the outermost boundaries of digital music-making with each new album. But electronic music has changed a great deal in recent years; with much of its experimental wing moving into a more conventionally pop-minded, user-friendly direction. Nothing doing for Autechre. As their new recording Quaristice confirms, Autechre never gave a toss about competing with Daft Punk, and they're not about to start now.

While Quaristice sports its share of the daunting sonic abstraction and industrial-grade rhythms that have long been the Autechre signature style, it's also the most austere material the duo's released in nearly fifteen years. Rather than the dense, hermetically self-contained sonic universes that the duo's created over the past decade or so, the album unfolds as a series of open, amorphous musical sketches that feed and bleed into one another; frequently dissolving into dark, almost cinematic-like interludes. At times, Quaristice is like listening to the audio equivalent of ice-nine, as its sustained, crystalline timbres seem to cast a flash-freezing chill on everything within reach.

But Autechre's recorded work and performance repertoire are often two totally different beasts. Like most innovative electronic artists of their caliber, Booth and Brown view touring and the live-performance setting as an opportunity to branch out, improvise, and bring some works-in-progress out for a test drive. More often than not, the pair uses the occasion to cut loose. As former English b-boys who've long harbored a love for the gritty, distorted keyboards and body-rocking 808 kicks of old-school electro, they're just as likely to get busy twisting noise and sculpting soundscapes around an onslaught of punishing, four-on-the-floor beats.

Autechre will be playing at The Abbey next Friday evening. Supporting on the bill is Massonix, the latest project from Graham Massey. As a former member of acid-house pioneers 808 State, Massey played a key role in blazing the trail for post-rave electronica back in the late '80s and early '90s. Veteran British techno DJ Rob Hall opens for the evening. 3420 W. Grace (at Elston). Tickets are $20 in advance and at the door. Doors open at 8pm, and the show starts at 9. Ages 18 and older show.

[video]: Autechre - "Gantz Graf" (2002)
[video]: Autechre - "Dropp" (1999)

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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