Few can deny the stature of Autechre within experimental and Intelligent Dance Music. The duo formed in 1987 and they have consistently provided listeners with some of the most intriguing, jaw dropping and subliminal works of electronic music, whilst at the same time polarising listeners due to their experimental and abstract nature of their work. ‘Exai’ is their eleventh album release (FYI, exai is the phonetic spelling of the Roman numeral for 11 – XI) and continues to show that they are still full of innovation and creative spark.
‘Exai’ has 2 hours’ worth of IDM goodness split over two CDs. The first CD is a typical Autechre offering of abstract, intelligent dance music. This is exemplified by the opener, FLeure: schizophrenic beats underlie a disjointed array of beeps, bops, and synth shenanigans. The experimental vibe continues with the sinister sounding epic irlite (get 0) and the minimalistic Flep, but jatevee C has the album forking into more of a typical song structure. The disc highlight has to be the closer: bladelores, a sublime piece of electronica that is sure to captivate listeners.
The second CD flows much like a science fiction story, and has a much darker tone that the first CD, which is saying a lot since the first CD is not exactly cheery. Nodezsh is a spine-tingling, haunting piece of electronica, whilst runrepik immerses you in some sort of intergalactic laser battle. Cloudline at first comes across as a straightforward electronic affair, but after a few more listens, several new layers are revealed, and the complexity and intricacies of the track soon become apparent. For me, recks on hits the spot, combining chest thumping beats, crunchy electronica, and 8-bit robot sounds to create a delicious IDM offering.
Some have argued that ‘Exai’ could have been more robust if it had been trimmed a little. Whilst I see their point of view, I feel that having the full two hours allows ‘Exai’ to take the listeners on the whole journey, bumps and all; and this makes it that much more appealing.
Autechre ‘Exai’ is out now thorugh Warp Records.