Format: Double LP
Catalogue Number: WAP LP 180
Year of Release: 2005
A1 LCC (7:46)
A2 Ipacial Section (9:57)
B1 Pro Radii (8:42)
B2 Augmatic Disport (9:27)
C1 Iera (4:55)
C2 Fermium (5:45)
C3 The Trees (7:26)
D1 Sublimit (15:52)
I came to this album with fresh ears, as when I'm normally in an Autechre kind of mood, I tend to stick on my favourites, either LP5, Chiastic Slide, Envane, or (hush my blaspheming tongue!) the CD I have of EP7. And if I'm honest I'd admit that I probably only listened through to the whole album once when it came out, and never since.
I'll also admit to finding the prospect of sitting down and listening to another entire Autechre album a little daunting. This is an unfortunate side-effect of the project, but just something I should stop whining about lest it undermine the enterprise (I could go on in a similar vein about how I bought the new White Stripes album Icky Thump today, and probably won't get to review it much before my 45th birthday, but I won't [I will, however, mention that I was one of the many people responsible for the NME's best sales figures in a decade, as the most recent issue had a White Stripes single on the front. It was particularly pleasing to see that the same high standards of music journalism are still employed at the paper so many years after I bought my last copy - the featurette "Ask NME" on page 17 celebrates the 30th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper's...]).
What we basically have here is intricately programmed, dense and complex experimental music. There are often so many shifts in each track that you end up with a completely different tune at the end from that which you started with. In Ipacial Section it's like a new track every minute. On previous albums changes were gradual, but parts of Untilted sound more like a DJ with a heavy hand on the cross-fader.
They play with form and expectation. LCC stutters and the tempo halves after an astonishing display of breakbeat programming. Pro Radii includes MC and crowd samples, and finishes up with Hammer Horror church organ chords. Augmatic Disport must be the name of a sound manipulation process they've copyrighted, or perhaps a preset effect. The track itself brought to mind a before-and-after picture comparison, with the "before" being the relatively boring 4/4 acidic funk thing that plays the tune out, and the "after" being the main body of the track after they've cranked it up on crystal meth and locked it in a room full of sharp objects, or augmatically disported it, if you will.
At this point I'd begun to anticipate lots of variety in the track structures, and then they go and play with expectations again, as Side C has three relatively straightforward short tracks on it. The drone ending of Fermium being a particular highlight.
Album closer Sublimit could have been split into three tracks like Side C, and I wouldn't have picked them up on it. On it they pull together all that has gone before, the clattering snares, bass bouncing around, twists and changes of mood, a smattering of odd samples, changes to tempo and a nice long fade out. At this point though, I began to wonder two things:
1) What's all this really for?
2) Maybe next time, a beat-free album would be nice.