Friday, March 14, 2008

Autechre - Amber

Label: Warp
Year: 1994
Styles: Experimental, Ambient Techno, IDM

Review: (

In small but noticeable ways on this, their sophomore release, Autechre begin to break from the clean, if at times obvious, artistic techno from their debut record, and reach instead toward something far more distinct. Sean Booth and Rob Brown weren't quite there yet, but their self-production is even more accomplished than before, and their instincts to steer away from overly polite electronic dance music come ever more to the fore at various points throughout Amber. "Foil" begins the album with a distinctly spooky feel to it, with droning keyboards playing out over a series of spare percussion patterns; the heavy echo and crumbling, lo-fi bass feel of the track reduces its straightforward danceability, creating an ominous introduction to the album. "Silverside" at once strips things down to a more minimal approach. A string synth section plays out over first gently thudding then more pounding beats. Then a more off-kilter section with distorted vocal samples and sounds provides part of the melodic accompaniment and rhythm. "Glitch" has a nice roiling rumble to it; it isn't as fragmented as later releases, but veers a little more closely to the edge in comparison to earlier songs. "Piezo" is also worth noting, with uplifting synths balancing out a very quirky, almost intrusive series of rhythms, while "Yulquen" eschews beats entirely for a slightly disturbing though still beautiful track which rivals prime Aphex Twin. For all this, Amber does suffer a similarity to Incunabula, in that a couple of tracks could be removed with no problem, while tracks like "Montreal" and "Slip" continue the basic Incunabula formula without noticeable change. Even so, things are clearly starting to gel a little more here than on previous releases; the great leap forward becomes all the more logical in retrospect.


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