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Autechre on ice


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#1 Chabraendeky

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 12:40 AM

That's something I've been thinking about lately.

 

Many describe the music of Sean and Rob as "cold". Some say even Amber or Incunabula felt "cold" for them, and subsequent stuff even would get "colder".

 

I think I understand, what they mean, but on the other side, no, I don't understand it at all. I find it just lazy. Lazy to get into the music and think about it.

 

I mean, today is a really hot day here in Budapest, 30 degrees Celsius in the morning, and I was just listening to Autechre (L-Event and Draft 7.30, so the colder stuff), and you know what: the temperature didn't cool down. Not wit single degree.

 

Okay, okay, they mean perhaps, "cold" as "without a feeling of humanity". But that's not true: there is always an emotional aspect to Atechre's music: and where are emotions (even when just scary ones), there is life, there is humanity.

 

Or stands "coldness" only for a lack of catchy, pop-melodies and easy, comforting harmonic structure? I think it is. But that's just sad. Great music should never be easy. Cathyness and easyness is just, music without heart. Without a heart, there is no warmth at all. A heartless catchy pop-song is colder for me as anything else.

 

And in the music of Autechre there is a heart. A strong beating one. With a lot of warm blood pulsating in it. Not cold at all. Sometimes scary, not always comforting, but always true, and human.

 

What do you think? Is the music of Autechre really cold? What do this mean to you?



#2 Salvatorin

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 12:50 AM

On another level, how about literally Autechre on Ice as an ice-skating musical drama? That would be sick. It would be cool if falling and flailing around on the ice and not being able to get up is part of the musical. Also they should incorporate that seatbelt caught in the door thing from pendulu hv moda 



#3 Chabraendeky

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 12:55 AM

On another level, how about literally Autechre on Ice as an ice-skating musical drama? That would be sick. It would be cool if falling and flailing around on the ice and not being able to get up is part of the musical. Also they should incorporate that seatbelt caught in the door thing from pendulu hv moda 

It should be directed by Robert Wilson, and everything is just fine. An ice-ballet on Autechre. I would buy it. :catsalute:



#4 eczem

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 01:11 AM

Interesting topic, and of course the title made me picture more or less what Salvatorin described.

 

I think it's been used both ways, as in "lacking humanity," like how we all know how journalists will try to spin it like they pressed a button in max and out came Confield.

 

Definitely also been used, and probably mostly used, the other way that you mentioned: lacking familiar melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic structure. Probably even in the context of timbre, like somehow digital synthesis is "colder" than that "warm" analog. And yeah, I agree with you it's lazy.  I've said this before but, I'm downright thankful for how AE's discography has shaped my ability to actively listen, perceive nuance and detail, and take the time to appreciate new ideas with structure and form, even if it takes some time to absorb for certain tracks.

 

It's been hot as fuck in California, I'm gonna listen to Confield and hope that I get some imagery of shifting ice structures on a hurling comet to make me feel cooler.



#5 hoggy

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 02:22 AM

I've deliberately listened to Autechre in the snow a couple of times, it's perfect snow music for me - but I think part of loving snow is being cosy and warm at the same time in your thick coat and scarf and gloves and seeing the bright low sun and also then getting into the warm after.

As for emotional coldness? I suppose you could distinguish a cool temperament, and coldness as in numbness after a shock, or coldness like indifference. There are a range of emotions there and I suppose you could get any of those from their music but I reckon there's too broad a range to pin it down to just that.



#6 tneuvm

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 02:26 AM

lol I thought for sure this was going to be a compilation of interview quotes since they apparently love the sound of rocks hitting ice (!!!)

 

Yeah surely we'd all agree that anyone describing Autechre's music as "cold" by either of those first two definitions is seriously missing out. It's especially weird to me when people who are otherwise well-versed in electronic music don't seem to 'get it'. (For example Simon Reynolds--who wrote a really articulate passage in Energy Flash about how emotion is conveyed in electronic music vs more "traditional" music--said in the same book that the most interesting thing about Ae is "the absence of heart and humanity" in their music.) Maybe they're just buying too much into the way Ae are characterized in the music press?

 

That said, I do think "cold" could also be used in a third way, to describe a kind of atmosphere / mood: menacing, bleak, desolate, etc.--in which case it fits a lot their music perfectly I think.


Edited by tneuvm, 18 August 2018 - 02:43 AM.


#7 Chabraendeky

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 02:43 AM

Definitely also been used, and probably mostly used, the other way that you mentioned: lacking familiar melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic structure. Probably even in the context of timbre, like somehow digital synthesis is "colder" than that "warm" analog. 

Yeah, but that's kind of untrue too: I mean, I can hum a lot of Autechre songs, even later ones, they can be catchy in their own way. (It's kind of a catchiness too, that a malfunctioning air conditioner in my workplace makes me always think on the woodpechre section of tt1pd...)

 

Another approach: perhaps we tend to describe metallic sound as "cold" as in contrast to more "organic" sounds. And this "industrial" sound is could be seen as dominant by Autechre.

(Side note: it's kinda genial how Richard D. James manages to make a metallic hi hat melody sound warm and nostalgic on "Alberto Balsalm")

But Sean and Rob have always a kind of contrapuct to that "industrial coldness": not always lush synth melodies, but an element, that always makes me the track enjoyable. Mostly I'm not into industrial or noise music - but Autechre always manages to use elements of that in a way, that makes it compelling to me. But I think I could never describe, what it is. It might be not just one compositional tool, but a lot of them.



#8 Chabraendeky

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 02:53 AM

lol I thought for sure this was going to be a compilation of interview quotes since they apparently love the sound of rocks hitting ice (!!!)

 

Yeah surely we'd all agree that anyone describing Autechre's music as "cold" by either of those first two definitions is seriously missing out. It's especially weird to me when people who are otherwise well-versed in electronic music don't seem to 'get it'. (For example Simon Reynolds--who wrote a really articulate passage in Energy Flash about how emotion is conveyed in electronic music vs more "traditional" music--said in the same book that the most interesting thing about Ae is "the absence of heart and humanity" in their music.) Maybe they're just buying too much into the way Ae are characterized in the music press?

 

That said, I do think "cold" could also be used in a third way, to describe a kind of atmosphere / mood: menacing, bleak, desolate, etc.--in which case it fits a lot their music perfectly I think.

 

Thank you for your third approach!  

 

Yes, that could be. And for sure, there are some menacing or bleak tracks by Autechre. But I always felt a melancholic approach to it. Kind of a existential lonliness, I can very much relate to. Ad for me this feeling is somehow comforting. It's like showing the world as it is. With all it's ugliness and betay, with all joy and all fears. Don't keep back anything. Throwing away and crushing the pink sunglasses. A discussion between grown-ups, without fairy tales.



#9 Chabraendeky

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 02:56 AM

I've deliberately listened to Autechre in the snow a couple of times, it's perfect snow music for me - but I think part of loving snow is being cosy and warm at the same time in your thick coat and scarf and gloves and seeing the bright low sun and also then getting into the warm after.

As for emotional coldness? I suppose you could distinguish a cool temperament, and coldness as in numbness after a shock, or coldness like indifference. There are a range of emotions there and I suppose you could get any of those from their music but I reckon there's too broad a range to pin it down to just that.

Yes, you're right. And that's part of the lazyness, when someone is just saying the music of AE is "cold". Okay, but what does this mean?

Metaphores suck. Too subjective. But it's very hard to talk about music (and art in general) without them.



#10 phudoshin

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 03:13 AM

then theres that time i named all the tracks on the AE_LIVE series after inuit names for different snow

 

sheet 2 here:

 

https://docs.google....dit?usp=sharing


Edited by phudoshin, 18 August 2018 - 03:14 AM.


#11 hoggy

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 03:19 AM

Don't keep back anything. Throwing away and crushing the pink sunglasses. A discussion between grown-ups, without fairy tales.

 
This is an ideology in itself though, and just as unrealistic as seeing the world through pink sunglasses. But I can see how this ideology might be useful at times

#12 Chabraendeky

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 03:21 AM

then theres that time i named all the tracks on the AE_LIVE series after inuit names for different snow

Yes. Thanks for the reminder. Snow is cold too.
 
Another thing is similar to the discussed "lack of emotion" approach: not a "lack", but "not in focus". I mean, Autechre was always kind of similar to me to the Kunst der Fuge of Bach. Or the Missa prolationum of Ockeghem. This great musical pieces, where the focus is in the structure of music, and the expression evolves from this or against this.
That emotional expression is not in the focal point in the composition, so it's very different from that other type of music, like Beethoven or Janis Joplin, or whatever, where only expression is what counts, everything else is secondary.
Perhaps some people just call this more compositional, or archtectural art of composition cold.

Edited by Chabraendeky, 18 August 2018 - 03:22 AM.


#13 Chabraendeky

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 03:24 AM

 

Don't keep back anything. Throwing away and crushing the pink sunglasses. A discussion between grown-ups, without fairy tales.

 
This is an ideology in itself though, and just as unrealistic as seeing the world through pink sunglasses. But I can see how this ideology might be useful at times

 

Yes. It's again just a dumb metaphor.



#14 goDel

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 03:35 AM

Sadly, an "Autechre on ice" show wouldn't be Autechre if it wasn't in complete darkness. You might as well mix in the sounds of people skating with the tunes of Ae. Which could be helpfull in adding those icey associations, btw. But only in a literal sense. The emotional aspect is something else entirely.
But oddly enough, and I'm willing to bet unintentionally, the complete darkness is pulling all those emotional levers. As it inevitably puts you in a different emotional space. Which is a bit strange, come to think of it. As it puts you in an experience similar to being in space. Drifting in space. All alone. Going nowhere. But accompanied by harsh Ae stabs and beats. Is that the way to experience Ae? Not a light show or some visual art? Total darkness. Complete isolation. And alien beats.
The crowd noise saves you in a way. As it confirms there are still some other souls out there. Apparently having a good time. Despite the irony of being in a setting that pushes you toward unhappiness. As most people tend to hate being in total darkness. My bet is on Ae wanting you to be saved by their tunes, btw. As they basically try to put your focus entirely on the sounds. A nice attempt, but a bit counter intuitive as it seems to imply there's only one way to appreciate ae. Or at least the sense that appreciating ae requires complete focus.
I'm really going nowhere with this. But I'm willing to post it anyways. :S

#15 darreichungsform

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 04:10 AM

Often things that are synthetic and artificial are described as "cold" in contrast to "warm" organic things. But in the end the more artificial and synthetic something is, the more human it is. The definition of artificiality is that it is made by the hands of humans.



#16 Chabraendeky

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 04:22 AM

Often things that are synthetic and artificial are described as "cold" in contrast to "warm" organic things. But in the end the more artificial and synthetic something is, the more human it is. The definition of artificiality is that it is made by the hands of humans.

I think, the most human music is a cappella singing. But you're right, I can't imagine any art, that's not made by humans.

 

(I can imagine, that aliens in another solar system could have art form, but I can only imagine them as analogous to human art, so that doesn't count.)



#17 tneuvm

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 04:28 AM

But I always felt a melancholic approach to it. Kind of a existential lonliness, I can very much relate to.

 

Yeah for sure. That was probably the first way I connected to their music emotionally. IMO it especially comes through in some of their earlier works like Tri Repetae. (I don't get the "existential loneliness" vibe as much from their more recent stuff, do you?) Though I never really get the impression that they're particularly angsty or depressive people--so I do kind of wonder how intentional that dynamic actually is.

 

Speaking of classical composers, there's also a cool John Luther Adams quote (related to the intentionality question) that I've always suspected might describe Ae's philosophy pretty well:

But I don’t think about emotions when I work. I certainly don’t think about a narrative. And as I get older, and the music takes me continually into these strange and beautiful new places, I’m often less interested in telling you or even suggesting what you the listener should think or feel. Or hear in a piece. In fact, nothing makes me happier than when you think or hear or feel or experience something that I, the composer,  didn't anticipate or didn't understand was present…was implicit in the music. That is very exciting to me. Look, the music always knows more than I do. And the reason I do this…the reason we dedicate ourselves to music and the reason music is so essential to our lives is that it’s bigger than we are. It’s deeper….it’s like the ocean. There’s not just one current or one stream. There’s this ocean of possibility. I revel in that. I’m not trying to say anything. I’m just listening and trying to hear something I haven’t heard before, and then my job is to try and make that audible so you can hear it too. What it means is up to you.


Edited by tneuvm, 18 August 2018 - 04:31 AM.


#18 Chabraendeky

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 04:41 AM

 

But I always felt a melancholic approach to it. Kind of a existential lonliness, I can very much relate to.

 

Yeah for sure. That was probably the first way I connected to their music emotionally. IMO it especially comes through in some of their earlier works like Tri Repetae. (I don't get the "existential loneliness" vibe as much from their more recent stuff, do you?) Though I never really get the impression that they're particularly angsty or depressive people--so I do kind of wonder how intentional that dynamic actually is.

 

Speaking of classical composers, there's also a cool John Luther Adams quote (related to the intentionality question) that I've always suspected might describe Ae's philosophy pretty well:

But I don’t think about emotions when I work. I certainly don’t think about a narrative. And as I get older, and the music takes me continually into these strange and beautiful new places, I’m often less interested in telling you or even suggesting what you the listener should think or feel. Or hear in a piece. In fact, nothing makes me happier than when you think or hear or feel or experience something that I, the composer,  didn't anticipate or didn't understand was present…was implicit in the music. That is very exciting to me. Look, the music always knows more than I do. And the reason I do this…the reason we dedicate ourselves to music and the reason music is so essential to our lives is that it’s bigger than we are. It’s deeper….it’s like the ocean. There’s not just one current or one stream. There’s this ocean of possibility. I revel in that. I’m not trying to say anything. I’m just listening and trying to hear something I haven’t heard before, and then my job is to try and make that audible so you can hear it too. What it means is up to you.

 

Thank you for that quote. Wow. Yeah, I think too, that this describes the music of Autechre to me.

 

About the "existential lonelines"... yes, you're definitely right, that there has been a shift in later work. But for me most present are these feelings in LP5/EP7 and in a more uncomforting way in Confield. 

 

I think tehere is something in their "voice", I mean they melodic and musical invention, what points for me in that direction. But I'm really missing the appropriate words to describe it. "Melancholy" or "Lonlines" become again just dumb metaphores.  :catcry:



#19 oscillik

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 05:54 AM

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#20 auxien

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 05:56 AM


Often things that are synthetic and artificial are described as "cold" in contrast to "warm" organic things. But in the end the more artificial and synthetic something is, the more human it is. The definition of artificiality is that it is made by the hands of humans.

I think, the most human music is a cappella singing. But you're right, I can't imagine any art, that's not made by humans.
Elephants paint.
Some vocalizations by various animals have no known purpose, some speculate it's simply for the joy/art of it...
I'm sure there's other examples I'm forgetting. Not being pedantic, just saying hey, we don't have exclusive rights on art. Nearly, but not quite.

#21 jaderpansen

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 06:02 AM

nah, far too much wetness / fluidity to be considered cold.



#22 Stickfigger

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 06:11 AM

I thought this thread was going to be an expose about Sean's meth problem. Bitterly disappointed.



#23 AJW

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 09:26 AM

^lol
People are missing out big time. And I'm kind of jealous of them cause they still have that journey ahead of them should they choose to hike up that winding Autechre trail.

They once talked about how certain elements and moods of tracks were sometimes inspired by traits and mannerisms of people they knew, and perhaps each other too.
It's so very Autechre in that playful exploring way and anything but cold.

I do miss some of their good old wistfulness on post Oversteps output though, gonna go listen to some Rae/corc/krib vibes with Autumn feels in the woods.

#24 Zephyr_Nova

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 12:07 PM

On another level, how about literally Autechre on Ice as an ice-skating musical drama? 

 

Yeah this was sort of what I was hoping for when I opened this thread.  Photoshops plz.



#25 Boxus

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Posted 18 August 2018 - 12:30 PM

Often things that are synthetic and artificial are described as "cold" in contrast to "warm" organic things. But in the end the more artificial and synthetic something is, the more human it is. The definition of artificiality is that it is made by the hands of humans.

 

Yeah, I really feel like most of their music from Confield on has had an incredibly organic sound. Like.. with so many minute textural variations it actually sounds a lot more like a biological process than anything robotic.

 

I'd consider Tri Repetae to be a little more on the robotic side since it sounds more overtly mechanical/industrial and repetitive. But even that album has some really warm organic moments, like Gnit sounds like a colony of beetles learning how to be in love or something.