August 23 2013
5:51 PM

Manchester natives Sean Booth and Rob Brown founded Autechre in the early ‘90s and, as one of the top names on the record label Warp, have been active ever since. Autechre’s career is linked with the seminal (but poorly named) scene known as Intelligent Dance Music (IDM for short), which also gave rise to acts like Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada and Squarepusher. Their last record Exai is a two-hour long distillation of the compositional skills that the duo has developed over the course of twenty years. Booth and Brown have a solid background in early British hip-hop and breakdance scenes and their music evokes the ‘80s avant-gardism of electro urban music practiced by Afrika Bambaataa and Mantronix, among others. Autechre has developed these influences into a Borgesian maze of exoteric, cutting-edge synthesizer and sequencing techniques. Where a large part of the “underground” electronic music today is unashamedly ironic in its quotation of easy listening pop music from the past (the apparently unrelenting joke of “hypnagogic”) and a large part of hip-hop music expresses its exuberant competitiveness mostly through its lyrics, Exai dares to be self-referential, un-ironic and to celebrate its own aggressiveness, not via chart-friendly chutzpah, but by means of its inscrutable formalism. Rhythms evolve, patterns merge or mutate steadily, but faintly, within songs. An unmissable return to form. (Francesco Tenaglia)