Autechre's MO over the past decade has been to usher you through a labyrinth of thorny textures both alien and alienating while spouting complex algorithmic theorems and punching you about the head and torso in 17/8 (or maybe 13/4) time. But on Autechre's ninth album, Quaristice, the band members occasionally veer into a gentler, more classically "beautiful" melodic mode; overall, the album is less rhythmically manic than their more recent releases.
Disc opener "Altibzz" is so tranquil and pastoral it's as shocking as Joanna Newsom going death metal. "Notwo" and "Outh9x" recall the somber meditativeness of Eno's On Land. "The Plc," however, covers more familiar Autechre ground, with its quasi-danceable whip-crack beats, cricketlike chatter, and queasy synth tones contoured into baroquely warped figures. Halfway through, however, the track gets roughed up and fragmented into a withered version of the beloved electro on which these producers were weaned.
This epitomizes Autechre's approach: They're deconstructionists, former b-boys paying homage to hip-hop and electro by subverting its tropes, refracting them through the rarefied tonal palette of avant-garde composers such as Iannis Xenakis and Curtis Roads and, less often, the hypnotizing effect of gamelan. The results won't so much inspire break dancing as they will figurative head-spinning. It's some of the most potent psychedelia you'll ever hear.
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