Taking Sides: Autechre vs. Aphex Twin

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nasa level control panels? that's just a bunch of controllers. i don't hear anything particularly complex in autechre's music, processing wise. especially compared to the acedemics. but then again, why would they attempt that kind of complexity, they're making 'pop music' and those kind of max/msp projects take years.

i much prefer the complexity that arises with a fluctuating current running through wires and modules and your jamming around then your girlfriend puts the washing machine on everything drops a quarter tone for a second and then all your lfos and envelopes go a bit funny. ha. now that's randomness.

Crackle Box, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 11:01 (2 years ago) Permalink

ledge, that idm dude i quoted upthread has this blog:

http://rachmiel.org/blog/

he's an instrument designer, very good software instruments, and he's quite passionate about all the software out there 'there's no reason for anyone to sound like anyone else. it's a beautiful dream' stuff.

Crackle Box, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 11:05 (2 years ago) Permalink

xxpost Ae always insisted that there was nothing random about their music. Maybe the kind of bangin' analogue techno of Aphex's "Classics" R&S era is having a resurgence, but that's natural retromania at work. Who's to say drill'n'bass won't make a comeback at some point in the next 5-10 years?

If the DSP-fuckery thing sounds early-00's it's because so many IDM bandwagonjumpers were copping Ae's style at that point that the market became saturated and collapsed in on itself (it hurt Ae very badly during their Draft/Untilted days). But they'd been working on and honing that sound since as far back as Chiastic Slide in the mid-90s. I find something like Cichli or Rae have a greater a emotional impact today than, say, 4 or Girl/Boy Song, which I've always loved but offer diminishing returns on the whole. Of course your experience may differ. I certainly overplayed a lot of Twin back then, to the point I prob don't need to listen to much of his work again.

Scary Move 4 (dog latin), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 11:05 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeh that's why i said pseudo randomness, i.e they're always creating relationships between controller data to achieve a certain kind of complexity that most people interpret as sounding 'random'. i just feel like their music sounds too much like processes at work and that doesn't really excite me. i have the same aversion to a lot of serial music.

i guess someone like keith fullerton whitman is a well known example of someone who adopts similar techniques but his music seems to transcend the process. or something. lol. this is all wank, aphex just makes decent tunes innit

Crackle Box, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 11:24 (2 years ago) Permalink

of course the flipside of 'no-one should sound like anyone else' is that everyone makes music that only they want to hear - i think this might be evinced by that dudes blog (thx for link anyway though).

Touché Gödel (ledge), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 11:28 (2 years ago) Permalink

CB - see I like the approach Autechre take here (and appreciate Aphex's alternative route). For me, Autechre really do take the "music is math" philosophy to its logical conclusion - the idea that machines, given the right input, can create their own art that somehow creates an impact on the organic human mind. It's like machines in a factory suddenly coming together to make a rhythm, or someone hitting on that magic number of monkeys required to write the perfect novel. I find it fascinating to think that algorithms and generative processes could move me so much, and often imagine Ae as scientists/mathematicians rather than composers, feeding numbers into the loop until it creates a mesmerising fractal image of infinite beauty - every element, be it awkward or jarring or perfect, held in a symbiotic relationship with the rest.

That's pretty far-fetched, but it's cool to think about.

Scary Move 4 (dog latin), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 11:47 (2 years ago) Permalink

"Digital recording systems engender a kind of production that is overly concerned with editing and manipulating the sound after recording, rather than concentrating on recording music in a flattering manner to begin with. I don't like the way this perspective tends to flatten out performance nuance. That's the aesthetic problem I have with it."

To be honest, editing and manipulating the sound after recording, and not the performance, is what electronic music is all about. The above comment may apply to rock bands, but certainly not to techno; when electronic acts liked The Prodigy started acting like they were a rock band, that's when things started to go wrong.

Tuomas, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 12:52 (2 years ago) Permalink

my analogy was meant to imply that

1. autechre are a one-trick pony who do one thing well

2. aphex has a much wider range and has done many things well

the late great, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 13:16 (2 years ago) Permalink

Tuomas and the late great OTM.

Scary Move 4 (dog latin), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 13:19 (2 years ago) Permalink

A most unlikely kids book.

Mark G, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 13:19 (2 years ago) Permalink

It's a tempting analogy but I agree with abcfsk, there's actually a lot of range to their work. Not an awful lot in common between Amber and LP5 and Confield.

Touché Gödel (ledge), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 13:29 (2 years ago) Permalink

xxp I don't agree with that at all, in fact if anything I'd switch the two

frogbs, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 13:37 (2 years ago) Permalink

Is it just me, or is "Clipper" (and I guess other bits of "Tri Repetae") the closes Autechre came to sounding a lot like Aphex, or at least not dissimilar? After that it was really off to the races for the duo.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 14:05 (2 years ago) Permalink

It's not as though Autechre made an entire career out of one idea, but there's a clear philosophy and a trajectory core to their work, starting at Tri Repetae and running through to the present. Aphex on the other hand would have clearly defined jumps in style from release to release, track to track, but it became apparent around the time of Druqks that really he only had about 4 or 5 kinds of track.

Scary Move 4 (dog latin), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 14:05 (2 years ago) Permalink

one man's clear philosophy and core trajectory is another man's stuck in a rut

the late great, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 14:10 (2 years ago) Permalink

I also never quite got the impression Autechre was ever taking the piss, even when they probably were. Aphex, on the other hand, like many a genius, seems impressively aloof about his own work.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 14:12 (2 years ago) Permalink

So aloof that he hasn't released anything of significance in over 15 years...

Scary Move 4 (dog latin), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 14:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

blow me.

Scary Move 4 (dog latin), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 14:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

blowtechre

am0n, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 14:22 (2 years ago) Permalink

i understand that incunabula and tri repetae and lp5 and confield don't sound exactly the same

then again neither do saw i or saw ii or icbyd or windowlicker or rdj albums

the late great, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 14:28 (2 years ago) Permalink

i still think it's weird to call Ae a "one trick pony". i think they've easily got the range of Aphex and then some.

frogbs, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 14:32 (2 years ago) Permalink

this is a silly part of the conversation tbf. Both acts had a wide remit. Both were lumped into the same category, but there's actually a huge gulf between them. Weirdly, it was when I first heard Autechre (after having been an Aphex fan for a good while) that I remember thinking "are these guys taking the piss?"

Scary Move 4 (dog latin), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 14:33 (2 years ago) Permalink

Yes, but Aphex Twin is often truly taking the piss! The one time I saw him on live, lying with a laptop on the couch while three giant dayglo bears stumbled around the stage .... ?

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 14:36 (2 years ago) Permalink

I mean, I loved it! And it was better than listening to Autechre goof around in the dark, for sure. But I guess I've always liked their mathtronica more than much Aphex.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 14:36 (2 years ago) Permalink

"Flutter" is kind of a musical joke and I'd think some other tracks too

frogbs, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 14:38 (2 years ago) Permalink

what is great about afx is that he can "take the piss" and still end up w a sick track (windowlicker and flow coma remix come to mind)

the late great, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 14:38 (2 years ago) Permalink

flutter is the non repetitive beats one?

is that a joek or a *serious artist statement*?

the late great, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 14:40 (2 years ago) Permalink

bit of both imo

'it was advised that DJs "have a lawyer and a musicologist present at all times to confirm the non repetitive nature of the music in the event of police harassment.'

Touché Gödel (ledge), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 14:41 (2 years ago) Permalink

I always took it as a joke, and it's a great track besides...

Agreed that Aphex clowns around better than anyone. In fact after the first few years it's the stuff he doesn't clown around on that's lackluster (outside "Flim", obv)

frogbs, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 14:43 (2 years ago) Permalink

give drukqs another shot, esp the acoustic stuff

the late great, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 14:45 (2 years ago) Permalink

Yes, but Aphex Twin is often truly taking the piss! The one time I saw him on live, lying with a laptop on the couch while three giant dayglo bears stumbled around the stage .... ?

― Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 15:36 (16 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Yeah that's what I mean. I was used to Aphex and his pranks, but when I heard Ae for the first time my reaction to the music was totally, "You've got to be kidding me!". I think it was Fold4, Wrap5 that provoked that reaction actually.

Scary Move 4 (dog latin), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 14:54 (2 years ago) Permalink

Druqks was okay, but it was the first time RDJ's limits as a creative strength first came into view. It's like listening to 3 different albums on shuffle.

Scary Move 4 (dog latin), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 14:56 (2 years ago) Permalink

lol @ aphex not having released anything of significance in 15 years. i'm still working my way through all the released/freebie analord tracks. that music is really rewarding on repeated listens. kind of odd how overlooked it all is especially while people are wetting themselves over youtube clips of him playing pretty much the same stuff.

Crackle Box, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 14:59 (2 years ago) Permalink

It's like listening to 3 different albums on shuffle.

wasn't there a story that he lost an ipod on a plane full of his music so he released a bunch of it as drukqs

am0n, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 15:01 (2 years ago) Permalink

also worth noting steinvord which, depending on who you ask, is either rdj, rdj+squarepusher, skrillex, or some 18 year old from spain

diamonddave85, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 15:02 (2 years ago) Permalink

xp ^ lol yea

aphex twin mythos vs. autechre mythos, rdj wins hands down

diamonddave85, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 15:04 (2 years ago) Permalink

The Analord stuff is okay, but it's not breaking ground in the same way that nearly all his work up until Windowlicker did. Not that that's a problem - good music is good music - but it seems RDJ is now more at ease with expanding on and deconstructing old acid and rave tropes than pioneering new ideas like he used to.

Scary Move 4 (dog latin), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 15:04 (2 years ago) Permalink

the analord tracks are really good, the best of them are as good as anything else he's done really

silverfish, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 15:06 (2 years ago) Permalink

maybe releasing it all the Analord stuff on expensive, limited vinyl wasn't a smart move? because I would agree, that stuff is plenty good

"Chosen Lords", in my opinion, doesn't really capture the best stuff, from what I've heard. The thing is that it's really the same stuff he's always done as AFX, neat acid junk that really has the mark of a man who composes like 250 tracks a year and doesn't have much time to work on them, but I prefer the Analords to the Analogue Bubblebaths (which have awesome tracks but as a whole are kinda...eh)

frogbs, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 15:09 (2 years ago) Permalink

Autechre's image makes people ignore the fact they do jam around a whole lot. How they physically do it in the studio I don't know but Untilted is basically a jam session, there's funk and sweat and freak-outs and it sounds pretty free-form (even if it was planned to sound free). This should've been a more natural critical approach to their music, considering hip-hop roots and all, than it has been. They're fun guys, they just don't look it.

There's no lack of great, emotional melodies in either career, by the way.

abcfsk, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 15:10 (2 years ago) Permalink

About 8 or 9 years ago I read an interview with Aphex where he said he'd thrown out a whole bunch of four-on-the-floor records saying they were useless (or somesuch). Two years ago I saw him play a set of straight-up techno bangers. Guy's pretty inconsistent in interviews, but that made me laugh a bit.

Scary Move 4 (dog latin), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 15:10 (2 years ago) Permalink

i think your definition of breaking ground is different to mine. i mean he's always taken an older style and put his spin on it. the analord stuff takes established dance forms but beefs everything up with fat analogue synths, and it's not like he's just got a 303 or a pro-1 and a few drum machines, the sound design is pretty unique to him. he's also pushing the boundaries of the form in typical aphex style. hyper dense, challenging music. the same as he's always done. and on top of all that, it bangs like a daddy.

Crackle Box, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 15:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

IIRC he claimed he made RDJ album short because he thought long albums were boring, despite having already released SAWII, pretty much the epitome of "long and tedious" (as brilliant as it is!)

frogbs, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 15:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

maybe releasing it all the Analord stuff on expensive, limited vinyl wasn't a smart move? because I would agree, that stuff is plenty good

"Chosen Lords", in my opinion, doesn't really capture the best stuff, from what I've heard. The thing is that it's really the same stuff he's always done as AFX, neat acid junk that really has the mark of a man who composes like 250 tracks a year and doesn't have much time to work on them, but I prefer the Analords to the Analogue Bubblebaths (which have awesome tracks but as a whole are kinda...eh)

― frogbs, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 16:09 (1 minute ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

This. I lost patience with the series as I haven't had a record player (or storage for records) until recently. Plus it's a mammoth collection to sift through. Think the series was good for obsessives, but a terrible commercial mis-step. I'm sure he doesn't give a hoot, but it completely wrongsided fans like me who'd been disappointed by Druqks and would have preferred an approach like ICBYD.

Scary Move 4 (dog latin), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 15:15 (2 years ago) Permalink

I'm not sure how much he cares about commercial success, but is he really still just living off money from his 1996-1998 heyday? It's not like he tours much.

frogbs, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 15:17 (2 years ago) Permalink

probably.

Scary Move 4 (dog latin), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 15:18 (2 years ago) Permalink

radiohead fans

Crackle Box, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 15:22 (2 years ago) Permalink

He must make a fair amount of dosh each time there's a TV documentary about the paranormal.

Scary Move 4 (dog latin), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 15:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

plus I guess pretty much everything from SAWII was licensed out

IIRC they used "4" in some kind of anti-drug advert which struck me as really odd

frogbs, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 15:28 (2 years ago) Permalink

Orange (?) probably paid a fair few for To Cure A Weakling Child too.

Scary Move 4 (dog latin), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 15:33 (2 years ago) Permalink


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