Autechre AutechreMove Of Ten
WARPTechnically, “Move of Ten” is an EP, although it is nearly 50 minutes long: it’s a classic move that Autechre, during periods of greater creative incontinence, put out extensions of their greater albums, like the unending “EP7” (1999) put out just after “LP5”, or the bonus tracks of “Quaristice”. Sean Booth and Rob Brown always seem to have the urgent need to “be able to take the rubbish out,” and during periods of frenetic creation and light trajectory, as with the current “Oversteps” –which has nothing extra and isn’t missing anything, and which marks an aesthetic reinvention of the Manchester duo which they needed like you need a shower after running ten kilometres– they never miss the opportunity to put out more work and fatten up their discography. They’ve never been known for their sense of measure or for prolonging periods of silence: and here there are ten more songs, divided into two records, or sequenced all in a row on a CD with a design very similar to that of “Oversteps”, and we suppose that Autechre fans will be pleased. Nevertheless, it turns out that “Move of Ten” isn’t a sequel to “Oversteps”, but rather, I would dare to say, because of the type of sound that slides through the groove, it is possibly the prequel, the previous studies and rehearsals before obtaining the definitive sound that has crystallised into the renewal of the bonds between Autechre, ambient and epidermal emotion instead of the prolongation of the rocky road, difficult listening, and rough IDM that had accompanied them since “Confield” (2001), and even further back.
The main shock of “Oversteps” consisted of the album recovering the early Autechre– of “Amber” (1994), in a sense– at a time when the hope of emotional regeneration in Booth and Brown’s music was lost. We imagined them programming rhythmic patterns from complex algorithms forever and not following the beating of their hearts. We feared that they could melt into their own software and turn into disturbing binary code, like Mayor Motoko Kusanagi at the end of “Ghost in the Shell”. And suddenly, the desire for dance music came back, with precise, warm melodies instead of the random sequence of notes and blows—as if the programs they use for composing had been bought on Mars. The only two unknowns points left surrounding “Oversteps”, therefore, was how Autechre had arrived at this sound, and what its successor would be like once they had jumped to the next level. “Move of Ten” should answer at least one of these two questions. If this is “what comes after” –trusting that the chronological order of creation of the albums corresponds to that of their coming out—get ready to expect “Oversteps” to be only a spring evening’s dream, a desert island in Autechre’s discography, a false alarm. On “No Border”, “Y7”and “Rew(1)” we hear the bands classic motifs, notes pinched as if they were those of an electric clavichord, rhythms out of joint like an electro pattern on crutches, numerous pads that sweep the surface of the track like a gust of wind in the desert. But they also show us those arid, grey lunar landscapes that had formed a part of their more isolationist phase. Only occasionally do they do away with the artificiality and aspire to recovering those days of cubist dance music – “M62” for once owes more to Detroit techno than to its own concrete feedback— but the general tone of the album is craggy and not a very gratifying to listen.
And all of this would be excused if the answer to the question above were different: and what if this is the transition material between “Quaristice” (a very dry album) and “Oversteps”? And what if these songs were rehearsals in the process of lighting up the sound, opening windows, filtering ideas that had been put off until then, reminding them of their 90s albums, so missed, and yet also still so current? In that case, “Move of Ten” is a testimony to breaking down walls and rebuilding a space. As it is a process album and not a consolidation, it has its highs and lows, its moments of confusion and uncertainty, but it helps to understand it as a thick bundle of noises that starts to crack up to give way to more pleasant sounds, or like a roller of disconnected rhythms that link up to form a more coherent pattern. Then it would be the making of “Oversteps”, one of those well-done extras appearing on special DVD editions, which even if it isn’t up to the movie (nor does it need to be), is still a useful accessory for understanding the artistic dimension of the main work. Prequel or sequel, “Move of Ten” goes no further than being a testimonial, an artefact for those who want to know all about Autechre, but it has the virtue of always making “Oversteps” seem like a better album.