Half a Tab
For more than two decades, Englishmen Rob Brown and Sean Booth have made some of the world’s most uncompromising electronica. Save for early in their career, Autechre’s brand of dance music is largely undanceable and more abstract art than music. Listening to a full album is much like getting tossed around on rapids in a raft, so where this year’s double album Exai was a white-knuckle challenge, the follow-up L-event EP is far more accessible and entertaining almost entirely due to its brevity.
The most immediate feature of the squirming synths and beats on L-event is the production that helped commit them to tape. The keyboards and samples that pass for melody in “tac Lacora” and the tuned percussion in “M39 Diffain,” cleaned and compressed with extreme prejudice, are sharp enough to the ear that they feel like they could actually draw blood. It’s a curious level of crisp sound that might grab even longtime fans by surprise.
The back half of the EP, however, serves to remind us that even a little Autechre is still a baby porcupine of music—engaging, yet prickly. “Osla for n” is eight minutes of coughing, sputtering rhythms that gain the slimmest 4/4 foothold halfway through, while “newbound” suggests a symphony of movie laser sound effects. Still, L-event feels like it might be useful as a gentle (!) introduction for neophytes to the good and bad of the Autechre universe. Let them decide for themselves, and better a small dose than an overdose, right?