Sunday, January 17, 2010

Initial reflections: Autechre - Oversteps

A new album from Autechre is always cause for mass celebration. I'm still not sure how the lads manage to do it, but Booth and Brown manage to deliver a beautiful new statement of emotional machine music every two or so years. March 22/23 sees the release of their 10th full-length, Oversteps.

I received a promo copy yesterday, and, shock of the new aside, we've really got something special on our hands here. Autechre's trajectory had been on a stable (though still satisfying) path, from 1998's LP5, through 2005's Untilted, their immersion in generative and algorithmic music having reached its pinnacle with 2001's superb Confield. After delivering a run of albums which successfully built on twitchy beats and dark FM synths, 2008's Quaristice was rather a curveball. Sparse in stark contract to the density and long track lengths of Untilted, Quaristice was filled with sublime little sketches. These worked very well with the slew of remixes re-versions of the material, released as the bonus disc, Quaristice (Versions), as well as the digital release series,

So, what to make of Oversteps, then? Well, more than ever now, Quaristice sounds like a steaming prelude record - a 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.

The temptation is go on much, much longer, but I'm saving the more flowery phrases for my review of the album in Big Shot. I'll also be interviewing Sean Booth for BS next Sunday; look for that all to be out in March, around the same time as Oversteps itself. Lastly, beautiful packaging for this one, natch:


Fredd-E said...

Nice preview. But do enlighten us, why were you privileged to receive a promo album?

Is there anything you could provide to prove your article is legit?

David Abravanel said...

@Fredd-E: I received a promo because I'm reviewing the album for Big Shot magazine (, in addition to conducting an interview.

As to providing something to "prove" my article is legit, I assume you mean valid proof that I received the promo? Not sure what you'd be looking for there, but I assure you it's a legitimate review copy of the album.

Fredd-E said...

Thanks for the clarification.

And about the proof, you could start with some picture of the album on your table and/or sound snippets! If only... ;-)

David Abravanel said...

@Fredd-E: sound snippets, I won't (and can't) do. But here's a photo I took last Saturday for my Twitter feed:

Let me know if that works for you ;).

Mike said...

I was just wondering... are any of the songs on Oversteps smiliar in style to their newest released song "Oval Moon" from the Warp20 box set?

John S said...

probably not...that is a very old track, made around incunabula era.

David Abravanel said...

@Mike - that's a tough call, but yeah, "Oval Moon" has that early Ae sound and that's not quite what I personally hear in Oversteps. I will say this though, it's way more tonally-focused in parts than I would have expected. There are a number of tracks that sound a lot like Plaid, which is something different.

Mike said...

Thanks for the info John and David! Yeah I was surprised at how old school oval moon sounded...makes sense that it was originally from that era (I wonder how much other stuff they have laying around from the early 90s that we have yet to hear).

The past aside, I'm excited as all hell to hear what they've done with this one.. David, thanks again for the great preview- I'm really looking forward to this !!!

Fat Roland said...

I'm listening to Oversteps as I type, and, well, it's somewhat of a surprise. Are those *beats*? The Plaid comparison, above, is fair.

I think I'll post some kind of review on my blog tomorrow morning.

Fellow blog reader types, you have every reason to be excited about this album. It sounds great and is their most immediate work for quite some time.

Cammie Spectrum said...

have you heard the fake Autechre tracks out on soulseek apparentlly by Altered:Carbon. if you haven't heard these tracks they are awesome...I cannot beleive they are not Autechre check out . Part of me feels that these are the Autechre tracks and Autechre is pulling this off to insure that people that download also preorder as well. perhaps you can clear this up for me

Fat Roland said...

Well fancy that. The Autechre album I was listening to wasn't Autechre. It was Altered:Carbon (YouTube sample

I'm pretty sure Altered:Carbon are nothing to do with Autechre. It's just a very, very good soundalike.

Alexandre said...

Just compared it with the tracks on altered:crabon tracks ont he myspace site and...they are the same.

Either the file is a fake or altered:carbon is ae in disguise. ... .

Brendan said...

One question for Mr. Abravanel:

Is this record percussion free ambient? The brief interview you posted on a different page made it seem that way, I but I find it difficult to imagine a completely beatless autechre album.

I doubt you will get into any trouble by answering this question! :)

Thanks, for your postings btw. Yours is the only reliable info on Oversteps on the net right now, I hope you're aware of that fact.

Fredd-E said...

In addition to Brendan's post I'd like to know when your lengthy 1800 words AE article will get published? As in when we Big Shot Issue 31 be released?

I'm thrilled to read that!

David Abravanel said...

Brendan - thanks for reading the blog, though admittedly I'm a bit hesitant to post more of my reactions, since I'm wrestling with exactly how to put it myself. It's not that beats aren't there, more than they're a lot less up-front, and melody takes greater precedence than I personally might have expected for an Ae album. Perhaps one of the best ways of explaining some of the sounds is to say that Sean did talk about some of his favorite synths of the moment being intricate FM monsters - FS1R, FM8. I think that's where I was hearing the Plaid comparison.

As for the next issue of Big Shot, it should be out some time in March, probably a couple weeks before the album drops.

bertolt_brechtakt said...

I have to say that I am not very happy with Oversteps so far. My first thought after the two fake leaks of the album was, that the promo CD might be just another fake. Oversteps is not AE at their very best. It has a great production of course, blasting my hifi speakers each time the bass rolls along. But I don't hear anything new on here, really very Tri Repetae and a bit Confield plus Draft 7.3.