Autechre's 6th LP, to be released April 30 in the UK (and hopefully May 1by Warp's new American division).
  1. vi scose poise
  2. cfern
  3. pen expers
  4. sim gishel
  5. parhelic triangle
  6. bine
  7. eidetic casein
  8. uviol
  9. lentic catachresis

I think what everyone was expecting for this album was for Autechre to combine the extreme experimentalism of their recent releases with the more accessible sound of their earlier work. Experimental albums are vastly important for pushing the boundaries of what music can be, but every few albums a truly visionary experimental group must tie it all up together and show the public the power of what they are doing, or other groups will do that for them.

Does the album meet expectations? For the most part, I have to say it does. The concession to mainstream listening habits, however, is small. There are tracks which would be at home on LP5, EP7, or the Peel Sessions, but the beat is given more emphasis than it has been given on any album since tri repetae++. This is not a sweeping, majestic ambient work (though there are moments of great ambient beauty), but rather a sharp blast of little noises and melodies interplaying with each other. Diversity and progression within tracks are not shunned this time around, but are rarely obvious. In any case, it's refreshing to hear a band which has a bona fide masterwork in their catalog (in the way of tri) stay fiercely experimental and reject the urge to recreate the past. Tracks like "Pen Expers" and "Eidetic Casin" display a welcome new direction. Confield is the future, at least for Ae.

Autechre divided their fanbase and critics with this 2001 release; there were some who thought this album was too cold, sterile and unlistenable - that half the tracks were just technological synth noodling, with no real substance or direction. Then there were those, more recent fans who had been introduced to Autechre's later output, such as 1998's seminal "LP5" (also sometimes known as Untitled, or Autechre.), who thought Confield was a revolutionary album, years ahead of it's time, a wonderful synthesis of old and new. Indeed, the critics seemed to hold this view more often than not.

However you, or your friends may feel about this album, it is unquestionably unique; from the rolling, ring mod bells of the ambient opening track, "VI Scose Poise", to the insane whirlwind tape loop stutters of "Bine", to the last, spluttering glitch of the final track, "Lentic Catachresis", this is a polished, revolutionary peice of modern electronica which has kept Autechre one step ahead of all their peers.

This album can be very heavy listening; it took me several months of exploration and listening to it in darkened rooms before it truly began to shine. For newcomers to Autechre's oeuvre, I suggest that one starts with their earlier material, since you'll find it helps to put the album in perspective if you work chronologically, mapping the development of their sound.

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