Autechre - Gantz Graf [Warp Records - 2002]You might be in for a surprise... But in fact that is what Autechre always does; taking the listener further and deeper into the artificial electronic world of the ever-innovating Mancunians. The new EP Gantz Graf is no exception and is an unnatural evolvement of the Confield-sound.
The sound manipulators have left an impressive discography behind since they started in 1993. The melodic and ambiental Incunabula to the intelligent-percussion based Confield; the duo has been one of the most inventive and interesting acts in the so-called "intelligent dance music" scene. Although Confield received mixed feedback for being too "intelligent" for some, it has become my favourite release from these Warp Records artists. With this new 3-track / 19 minutes EP, supplemented by another disc containing three videos on DVD-format, they are drifting even further away from the simple song-based output and let the inimitable beats do most of the work.
On the surface it might seem as chaotic and random fooling around with beats, but there's actually more if you dig deeper into Gantz Graf. The first (title)track wakes you up with a smash with its noisy output which is actually just computer feedback. The beats are not randomly placed if you listen carefully with headphones on; there's actually kind of structure - or groove for that matter - in here. It's very well hidden though, and the soft synth sounds in the background and fast tempo changes take your attention away from it. The second track Dial takes the already typical Confield sound and pours some organ chords over it. The most simple and "unintelligent" track on the EP perhaps, but still far more interesting than what 90% of the electronic music makers do nowadays. The 9-minute long grand final, ironically entitled Cap IV, is the most impressive track because it's actually melodic, an unthinkable quality in this cacophony of distorted percussion. The chaotic feeling is overwhelmed by a melancholic one hearing the slightest sounds of a piano in the background, plus the sample of some sort of voice. Amazing.
The videos present on the second disc are there for the Autechre-fan, but only solely for them. I don't think that I will play them very often, although they are nice. Especially the abstract linear and grainy animation accompanying the track Gantz Graf, made by Alex Rutterford. It's perfectly synchronised with the seemingly disorganized beats, creating a hypnotizing effect that can't be described here. You just have to see it, I'm afraid. The video of Second Bad Vilbel can be found in the "special features" section of the DVD, alongside another one. The first mentioned has been directed by Chris Cunningham, of Squarepusher and Aphex Twin fame, but it doesn't reach the impressive level of the title track.
Yes, Sean Booth and Rob Brown have outdone themselves once again. It's even more mind-boggling then Confield, and shows once again that Autechre are moving forward in a musical direction no one has ever been before. This is more "avant-garde" or "intelligent" than any artist can hope for. Let's just hope they don't take things too far that it becomes unreachable for a normal human being.Justin Faase