autechre, cross medium

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Posted 05 Mar 2008 in Music

I’m a big fan of what you might call ‘conventional’ music journalism, even though there’s plenty of rubbish out there. I grew up on Smash Hits and the Melody Maker, and am a big fan of several current music writers, although I’m pretty sure that the quality control on, say, the NME, has dipped alarmingly in recent years. So despite my interest in the web and blogging in particular, I still get the vast majority of my muso-journalism from the inkies, despite the presence of some excellent music blogs.

All the same – the following two reviews highlight how much potential there is either medium. For those who don’t know, the popular but extremely wilful Autechre are performing their latest tour in a pitch black environment, which can be rather hard to take. Of the two reviews, one is a traditional write-up from the Guardian (albeit one which is brave enough to go against orthodoxy), the other a short, unconventional review from Pete Ashton’s perennially excellent blog. It may not be music journalism per se, but it tells me as much as the first review.

Here’s an excerpt from Dave Simpson’s Guardian piece:

Stomach contents stay where they are, but their biggest prank is to mess with people’s heads, as their own music is scrambled and mashed-up beyond recognition. Vaguely danceable rhythms are suddenly destroyed by sonic screeches.

Some brave souls look po-faced as if this is something terribly important; others look baffled. One poor man is so disoriented that he walks into a door. When the duo start speeding everything up to comedy levels you start to wonder if this will be the first time “intelligent dance music” has given an entire audience black eyes. It seems less like a performance than a bizarre experiment in human behaviour.

And here’s Pete’s extremely short review – written via the medium of text message. He lists the ‘value of this review’ as ‘Slim’, but it’s not.

  • At a gig where the only thing to look at is a flashing green LED on the monitor speaker.
    Autechre on. Not convinced as to context of packed gig venue.
  • Music v good but I’m not getting it. Wanna be experiencing this elsewhere. Others seem happy tho.
  • Have moved to front. Makes a lot more sense now!
  • I think I need drugs. Or lots of coffee.
  • Well, that was out of my comfort zone. In a good way. Don’t think I’ve been to a gig like that before.

I’m glad I read both, and I think I’d quite like to see the band live, so looks like Pete’s done enough.


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