The mythology of Autechre is about as great as any electronic artist on the planet. They have put out some of the most influential electronic music of the past three decades with electronica (IDM if you prefer that term) designed as a fuck you to the government, skittering jungle, drum & bass, trip-hop and industrial and ambient and electro influences all with an eye for experimenting with a mind-warping edge. Putting on an Autechre album for the first time is an experience you know will be unique because you don’t know what to expect from it. It will likely take you down some alien pathway with twisted drums and warped melodies. Today is a good day because now you get to experience a new Autechre album for the first time, SIGN, unless you heard it last week. It is their first true artist album in seven years.
The pair have been unloading loads of new material over the past several years with live sets broken up into album-ish format and other projects, but this is the first complete body of work they have released since 2013’s Exai.
This album on the whole isn’t as frenetic and delirious as their music can ascend to. Given the state of the world, that wouldn’t be out of the question. The pair channeling their anger into music would make sense, but looking at their past, they haven’t always gone that obvious route. Instead this album is a bit more meditative and beautiful with tracks like "Metaz form8,” “th red a” and “psin AM” drawing you into their warm ambient embraces.
Accessible is not a word that is used liberally with Autechre – often one of the more difficult groups to get into for a casual fan. But this feels more melodic and circular to a calmer time rather than the pulverizing industrial rhythms that can dominate their music. There aren’t the snaking alien rhythms that take you down cul-de-sacs of unshakable drums, u-turning into completely different patterns. Instead it is their most human record. This feels as cohesive and lush as they have sounded in a long, long time.
Without clubs or any live outlet, this feels better to enjoy this album at home with a more subdued LP from Autechre. It is still complex and layered with their ability to write tracks that always have one more twist behind each turn.
Enjoy this album today in a world there isn’t too much to enjoy. Get your copy here via Warp.