Title: Chiastic Slide
Format: Double LP
Catalogue Number: WAP72
Year of Release: 1997
A1 Cipater (8:56)
A2 Rettic Ac (2:08)
A3 Tewe (6:56)
B1 Cichli (8:52)
B2 Hub (7:35)
C1 Calbruc (3:51)
C2 Recury (9:44)
D1 Pule (8:33)
D2 Nuane (13:13)
A continuation of Autechre's journey into abstract electronic sound, this album still sounds like nothing else out there. Here they have taken the dirtier, mangled beats of earlier releases, and slowed them down to a shuffle, giving them more space to play with effects, odd samples, and jazz structures.
Cipater sets the tone, with introspective keyboard lines playing over mechanical crunching that never quite resolves itself around the ever-changing beat. Basslines come and go, resolving into a jazz-tinged 'walking' bassline in final third of the track, alongside splintering, glitchy, unrecognisable noises. The drawn-out ending is a feature of many of the numbers, where elements used earlier in the piece and toyed with, to make mini, Eno-esque codas.
Rettic Ac dispenses with a 'proper' beat altogether, the rhythm, such as it is, being composed from the sounds of various watery engines breaking down. On headphones this is even more disorientating, as elements of the percussion are randomly dispersed across the stereo panorama, and keep moving - not a track to play at parties.
A skipping digital-error noise segues into Tewe, which is probably the tune most recognisable as Autechre, or indeed any electronic music, having a hip-hop beat at times, and for a small period even lapses into something close to drum'n'bass. It reminded me of what Aphex Twin was putting out at around the same time.
Highlights from the remainder, which follow much the same pattern as the opening side, include the supercharged Newton's Cradle percussion on Cichli, the percussion reminiscent of fireworks on Hub, and album closer Nuane, which I find to be the most definitive statement of what the album is all about. It also happens to have the only hummable melody, but played over a chaotic, constantly mutating beat-and-noise percussion section, alongside two separate basslines, each comprising only two long notes. One of these is an effected growl, the other more like a drawn-out cello. Things fall apart about halfway through, which is announced by a broken, wah-wah'd drone, and for the rest of the album each part of what has preceded tries to bring it back together, but fails, and ends up drowned out in noise and stereophonic stutters. An amazing thing, as I think the fact that I've struggled to describe it in any coherent fashion pays testament to.
The artwork deserves comment too. I think that, as abstract art, it sums up the music very well, and then when I was getting the record out of the sleeve I noticed the below, printed inside, which shows a level of attention to detail which is pleasingly carried over from the music:
Finally, I found an mini-interview from the now defunct Select magazine, which I include here, if only for the use of the word "chod" to mean rubbish (as with all pictures, click to enlarge):