ALBUM WARP RELEASE: APRIL 8,
2003 REVIEW: APRIL 25, 2003
are alchemists, I think; modern mystics seeking to turn sound detritus
into gold using arcane studio methods. The language of their music as
well as their track titles, is arcane and incomprehensible to the muggle,
to use contemporary pop-speak. The obsession for developing a private
language and the immersion of individuals in a private world of sounds
belong to the domain of madmen or wizards.
Since starting a bachelor thesis on Japanese noise music, I have been
listening to a lot of music for very different reasons than simple pleasure.
Noise rejects musical tradition, does away with the notions of harmony,
rhythm and general order. It forces you to think about music and question
your tastes. That popular music is molded in a quite rigid form evolved
from Afro-American tradition is no big news, of course. But thinking about
evolving musical forms lacking some of the attributes of that tradition
for instance some contemporary electronica as pointless "independent"
is unfair. History is full of human generated sounds and music unconnected
to the chromatic scale of European classical music and the aesthetics
of blues. It is also important to note that music can have a lot of different
purposes, requiring different methods.
As you might have guessed by now, Autechre make pretty strange music.
Still, "Draft 7.30" does not reject musical tradition. Snippets
of melody and definite rhythms keep Autechre anchored to the musical mainland.
Yet the musical structure is too alien for it to actually leave the boat
and stride ashore. Grounded in dance music as Autechre is, the notion
of dancing to the sculptural rhythmscapes of "Draft 7.30" is
not viable. Containing less ambient elements than some other Autechre
records, this one goes to the bare bones of the musical language of the
band. Beats are somewhat erratic and the sounds seem a little unsure of
themselves. Still, like Pan Sonic (Mika Vainio refers to this as "horsemeat
rockabilly"), Autechre always infuses even the most abstract, introverted
tracks with a certain funkyness. These are sounds striving for a form,
like a block of stone being shaped into a statue. Autechre is creating
something without quite knowing what, something new and not quite controllable.
I would like to think there is no purpose to it at all, and that the beauty
of it lies precisely in that zen-like aimlessness.
That also forces a different kind of listening, an opening of your ears
to a music that is not instantly either gratifying or offensive. You need
the ears of an alchemist in order for the sounds to develop purpose and
meaning inside you.