Autechre, Exai

Andy Battaglia

By Andy Battaglia

on 03.05.13 in Reviews
A pointedly eclectic double album

One way for a long-running electronic-music act to ensure their listeners stay freaked out and confounded — two emotional qualities that have been Autechre’s specialties since their dawning IDM days — is to release a double-album that clocks in at a little over two hours. Another is to make a hectic opening track that falls apart so drastically that listeners might wonder if their playback systems have entered their death throes. So it goes about halfway through “Fleure,” the first of 17 pointedly eclectic tracks on Autechre’s superabundant Exai. The album begins its dissertation on variety with the English duo’s patented mix of abstract haphazardness and meticulous organization, and they expand outward exponentially from there. The 10-minute “irlite (Get 0)” opens with a grotty mix of refracted beats and noise before drifting into a spell of (comparatively) sumptuous groove science, almost like an Autechre version of house music. Melodies snake and swerve through almost every track otherwise, taking their time to develop and resolve, when they resolve at all. And the beats — well, they bristle, bray, lean back, zoom forward, break up, and beam out toward the outer edges of the cosmos, where music so serious and austere might provide a suitable soundtrack.