Return to Autechre (idea)
"As far as we're concerned, it's all one big grey area these days. It's not just a rhythm or a melody. We tend to start making something more tangible in terms of parts of a track, but we never really know if it's a rhythm or whatever, just that it's coming together. We tend to make lots of little elements then chain them together to find the feel or structure of what the rhythm might be."
Autechre (pronounced "awe-tek-er" - supposedly, it is an amalgam of "Audio Technology Research") was formed in 1991 by friends Sean Booth and Rob Brown who had known each other for quite some time. Introduced in 1987 by a mutual friend, they learned that their fields of interest were basically a Venn Diagram consisting of one circle, containing BMX biking, tagging, hip hop acts such as Grandmaster Flash, and breakdancing. As they say, "we were the only two people that we'd met that filled in various gaps".
As acid started to take off in the UK, Sean and Rob joined in, and found their true love. Acquiring a drum machine and noodling about with it every day after school, they started recording demo-tapes and sending them off to various labels.
The pair's reputation led them to start a weekly radio show on Kiss FM (102 mHz) in Manchester, called Disengage. They started slipping in their own demos, and got to release Cavity Job on Hardcore Records. While the record sold decently, they had problems with the label, and quit, to send off a demo tape to Warp Records. This led to the tracks Crystel and The Egg appearing on the seminal Artificial Intelligence compilation.
After working on their debut for a year, Incunabula was released. Their sound already defined, the album stands out as one of the earliest pure IDM records. During the years, they have kept up steam by consistently putting out quality releases (although there was some turmoil on the IDM mailing list over Confield - it is somewhat less accessible than their other records, if that is even possible).
Not afraid of trying out new gear, they have continously expanded their setup, from the Roland TR-606 and Casio SK1 sampler that Rob had when they met, to the BBC Micro and Macintosh computers, as well as Clavia Nord Lead synths. Software-wise, they use Cubase and MAX. Rob even used to have an old reel-tape recorder that he cut up various recordings in, making his own brand of Musique Concrète.
Besides Autechre, Sean & Rob record in the "umbrella-project" Gescom, and have remixed countless acts, including Skinny Puppy, Neu!, Tortoise, and Nightmares on Wax. They have also been featured on the soundtrack to the movie π by Darren Aronofsky. According to Sean, there are even more tracks out there, that are by Autechre, but not known as such: "Yeah, we do all the time, but it wouldn't be a secret if I told you about it, would it? Obviously we don't always operate under the same name and don't always produce the same kind of music." Among the releases suspected of originating from the team are Lego Feet, Dual Purpose and Mortal & Chemist.
Discography (strong denotes album):
Sources: All Music Guide, Biography by Peter McIntyre, Warp Records homepage, Henrik Marstal & Henriette Moos: "Filtreringer - Elektronisk Musik fra Tonegeneratorer til Samplere 1989-2001", 2 interviews, one from intermusic.com and one called "On the Armchair with Autechre", and finally, the Official Autechre FAQ. A complete Autechre/Gescom discography can be seen here: http://membres.lycos.fr/autechre_gescom/index.htm. Also thanks to irexe for a couple of corrections. Coincidentally, this writeup was submitted almost exactly one year after my account was created (only off by 4 hours).
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