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Autechre - Granz Graf

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Artist: Autechre

Album: Granz Graf

Label: Warp

Review date: Oct. 23, 2002

Pleasures Revealed

Running through Autechre’s ouevre recalls Moore’s Law, where the density of transistors on an integrated circuit doubles every eighteen months. Each successive album is more complex, more focused, but still cohesive with respect to the work that came before it. And as long as you’re willing to listen a bit longer, the pleasures surely reveal themselves.

This is not to say that Gantz Graf is more complicated, focused, or beautiful than Confield. If anything, the new EP is just warmer. Confield is an oblique, distant, wintry album. Its war between rhythm and melody was a cold one, with staticky percolating beats stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, metallic textures making arms deals with crystalline ambient tones, and negotiations between hiss and drone at an impasse.

But if Confield was a conflict with no contact, Gantz Graf doesn’t find a resolution, but it does establish a rapport. The clicks and tones don’t seem like they’re feeling as lonely as before. They’re getting out more. The lead title track sounds a bit like “Pen Expers” on Confield played at 45. It has many of the same timbres, but it’s under more pressure, feeling more aggressive, coming apart at the seams, and spinning out of control halfway through.

The second track became a fast favorite, with playful, odd syncopations, and a beat/melody (well, part of a melody) that never stops riding the escalators. The vocals in the background have been pushed far past the point of recognition, cooked into a stew of cardinals, laughs, and sibilant sounds. The closer has more processed voices, with lovely, sustained melodies that pass between various fat-skinny synth-horns and a click section that has Brownian Motion written all over it.

This is the closest Autechre has gotten to dancable in years. It’s not a terribly new approach, but it is exciting, and naturallyleaves you with a great sense of anticipation for their next full-length.

The accompanying video follows every last glitch of "Gantz Graf” in perfect sync, but almost to the point of irrelevance. The computer-generated machine’s twitches and hiccups are compelling enough to watch, even from all those different angles, but after a while, it lost my interest. It seems that the video compels in the way that an mp3 player’s visual effects compel: rather than an independent interpretation, it nearly feels like a subjugated representation of the sound. The correspondence between audio and video is too linear, too close, too clinical. If you’ve never seen it, Chris Cunningham’s “Second Bad Vilbel,” and the Basscadet video serves as a reminder of how far Autechre has progressed in eight years.

By Elliott Brennan

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