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Autechre: LP5

Richard D. James (a.k.a. Aphex Twin) is oft credited by the general public, and by Autechre themselves, with the invention of the IDM/Glitch subgenre of electronic music. For critics, journalists and initiates however, Sean Booth and Rob Brown are generally considered to be the ones to take avant-garde electronic music to a whole new level. It is almost impossible for any progressive electronic artist today to not be called 'Autechre-esque'. Wether this is an injustice to ae and the artists in question remains subject to debate, but nonetheless, their fifth album LP5 was an unbelievable step forward from an already very impressive oevre.

What makes this album so remarkable is the fact that it manages to subject the listener to absolutely mind-boggling complexity in a very relaxed, almost casual manner. Autechre are known to make good use of several musical programming languages like SuperCollider, Symbolic Composer and IRCAM's Max to create completely unique compositions of astonishing complexity that are virtually impossible to build with conventional MIDI sequencing software and DSP equipment.

This album is, however, not a vulgar extravaganza of programming skills. On the contrary, the compositions are incredibly stylish and minimal. The incomprehensible structures are carefully led into the listeners subconcience by trivially simple melodies and sparse atmospheric sounds. Such a break from the norm it was that Radiohead's Thom Yorke called it one of the best pieces of music of all time. Yorke also admitted openly that LP5 was "a major influence" for Radiohead's Kid A. Ae replied jokingly: "Well he's wrong we've done loads better than that. But then it's only an opinion."

LP5 is, with the notable exception of the equally lengthy followup EP7, most likely ae's most difficult release. It takes quite some time to get used to, especially for listeners unfamiliar with Booth & Brown's earlier work. This is a direct result of the fact that is was such a departure from all known music up to that point. It has almost no tracks with instant appeal. It is simply too abstract for that. Notable exceptions include opening track acroyear2 and rae.

Aside from the compositional strengths of this album, it is revolutionary for its inventive sonics. The sounds are all fascinatingly textural. Almost as if they can be touched and felt just by listening. The production is very detailed. No elements of the sound are obscured by effects or low-quality equipment. Each sound has the sort of natural richness one would only expect from good acoustic instruments. If you think you know a thing or two about music and you haven't heard this, you'll be in for a treat!

LP5 (Warp1998)

  1. acroyear2
  2. 777
  3. rae
  4. melve
  5. vose in
  6. fold4,wrap5
  7. under BOAC
  8. corc
  9. caliper remote
  10. arch carrier
  11. drane2

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