Warp – October 28th
Less than eight months after dropping mind-boggling double album Exai, Rob Brown and Sean Booth are back. And the veteran musical heavyweights, who have been recording as Autechre since 1987, take up just where they left off on Exai with this new EP, featuring four tracks splayed out over 26 minutes.
Bedecked in the same starkly minimalistic packaging with the similarly monochromatic fractured QR code on the cover, the duo show their softer side by choosing a shade which hints at the yellowing ochre of an autumnal leaf. But if you are looking for decay you’re in the wrong place, this is a strangely positive and, dare I say it, listenable outing from Autechre. While Exai boasted a blitzkrieg of mangled beats and head-spinning lurches from one musical equation to the next, there is something charmingly old school about L-event. And that’s because the tunes are less thematically-complex with fewer shifts in mood, leaving the listener less jarred and better able to follow the tunes as they unfold.
That said, the tracks are hardly linear; you’re never going to hear a verse-chorus-verse moment on the EP. Harking back to the more ear-friendly songs of Tri Repetae, as lo-and-behold, there is even a break about three-and-a-half minutes into opener ‘tac Lacora’ – and a proper nasty one at that – which seems to reset the song’s excursion into an acidic blowout of digital distortion before it is allowed to drift into a bank of hazy atmospherics and slides out.
Within the blink of an eye, things get darker, ‘M39 Diffain’ seamlessly adopts the ambient outro of ‘tac Lacora’ before launching into a barrage of tough chopped beats with a nocturnal bassline that seems to get submerged in the puddle of a London pothole. But the song is notable for its stand-up-and-be-counted ferocity as the bassline travels from being right up in your face to getting phased out by a cacophony of ringing bells and crackling dub. Despite the mutation, the song keeps returning to its beat-heavy genetics and shakes off the knob-twiddling trickery to finish intact with a spasm of double-time drum machine triggers.
It’s swiftly on to ‘Osla for n’ which bumps along with its barrage of percussive scrapes and descending organ stabs until a surprisingly tender melody is allowed to float in. Never getting very loud or toppling the crunching beats, but it is a deft and superbly judged touch from the electronic pioneers before they ratchet up the intensity towards the song’s end. It finishes with a big, fluffy mangle of beats and rhythms that just barely hold together before the pinging keyboard line gets refracted into a new orbit.
If “L-event” is the belated pudding showing up after the laborious and long, though tasty, courses of Exai then it was certainly worth the wait. Dip in and be prepared for more classic smile-inducing bafflement served up by two electronic legends in rude form.
Buy: Autechre – L-event