Draft 7.30
Warp Records, 2003

In the ten years since their first work surfaced on the seminal Artificial Intelligence compilations, Autechre's music has grown more and more dense and complex with each release. While Sean Booth and Rob Brown's roots lay in late eighties electro and hip-hop, such early influences have been increasingly obscured by a haze of complex rhythms, brittle beats and highly abstracted melodic lines, culminating in their last, virtually impenetrable full-length release, Confield. No less daunting than the music itself, is the duo's quasi-mythic status as ascetic sonic innovators.

With Draft 7.30, Autechre step away from the austere density of Confield and allow their hip hop roots to show, even if they gnarl and twist every cliché of the genre beyond recognition. Though it is at times a forbidding and daunting listen, piercing through the dense thicket of sounds reveals a wealth of melody and funk underlining Autechre's irregular electro rhythms. Draft 7.30 is not suitable for casual, disinterested listening. Heard as background, it is all brittle, lurching cacophony, but once you focus more closely on the music at hand, extended melodic lines emerge amidst a churning sea of beats and squirming synths.

Many of the tracks begin quite simply, before beats seem to trip over themselves, fracturing into new, labyrinthine rhythms. Even tracks that reference hip hop most directly, such as the skittering "Theme of Sudden Roundabout" or the jovially funky "P.:NTIL" are far from straightforward -- indeed you can get motion sickness from all the twists and turns. Draft 7.30 finally comes to rest in an extended static-filled, electronic exhalation, but the overall impression is disquieting. Even at its most exuberant and inventive, Autechre's hyper-detailed sound worlds remain darkly dystopic.

Susanna Bolle

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In the Luxury of Details:
Autechre's Increasingly Experimental Electronic Music

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