If you are one who fancies order, direction and structure, hang on to your bill because this puppy is going back to the shop. Grandfathers of ‘intelligent’electronica, Autechre’s latest offering, Confield, is only a slight cut above the cacophony of the average kindergarten music class. Not being one who usually closes my third ear to any morsel of auditory art, the anarchic, nonsensical nature of this animal is too much for the best of men.
While it remains true that reputations in this industry are, for the most part, nothing but properly marketed hype, Autechre have indeed earned theirs on true merit. Past recordings, namely Tri Repetae, are virtual landmarks in the experimental techno environment. How things have changed. To quote an infamous closet case nicknamed Mozz, Autechre are going “Nowhere Fast”.
This duo has always been radical pushers of the musical envelope, and thereby has never created anything that would be capable of qualifying as a “song”. This time they have strayed so far from any form of structure that one is coerced into re-evaluating one’s very definition of music. As a firm believer in and supporter of sonic deconstruction and experimentation, it would be hypocritical of me not to deem this actual “music”. However, that being said, this is where I get off. Listening to Confield will no doubt remind one of the unbelievably annoying pseudo-intellectuals who frequent museums spending hours showcasing their impressive lexicons as they ponder over the meaning of the most elementary of works.
Sonically, this record is a success. Autechre continue to sculpt unexplored musical terrain like no other. Confield is full of the sounds you hear in your chemical nightmares. The ironic thing is that the very sounds that make this album intriguing are also at the root of its failure. Confield is nothing but sound. Literally, nothing but sound.
For those of us who have, on occasion, found solace and wonder in leftfield spectral landscapes, beware. This is beyond the imagination of most. For that reason alone we must congratulate Autechre. Applause all around for two of the most savvy fragmented knob twiddlers. However, at the end of the day, does this really mean anything? Are Autechre really inviting their audience along with them on this excursion?
Perhaps this was their goal all along, to stretch the sonic boundaries to the extreme. If so, Autechre, we salute you. If not, Autechre, something got lost in the translation.
Without wanting to step on too many toes, if the idea of chaotic computerized seizures is the bees’ knees for you, pick up Confield before you take your next breath. On the other hand, if your definition of music remains somewhat removed from the desire for a cyborg soundtrack, return this record and pretend it was all a bad dream.
Always keep your bills!
"PopMatters is looking for smart music writers. We're looking for talented writers with deep genre knowledge of music and its present and…READ the article