Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Autechre's Envane

It's always interesting to re-visit electronic music. I'm still of the mind that the primary purpose of most electronic music is, ahem, to get a muthaf*cka on the dancefloor, but re-listening to a bunch of this stuff can force a person to re-contextualize it. That's especially true of so-called IDM ("Intelligent Dance Music," a name which has its racial connotations - a piece I read years ago implied it was a way to separate the genre from the more African "jungle" music)(rock and roll in its early days was also called "jungle" music because of its African American roots), which is almost completely divorced of the regular booty-bass of dance music.

Listening to Autechre's Envane was never really about dancing, I suppose, but it's always easy to categorize electronic musicians as more single-based as opposed to album-based, and thus I had never really considered Envane as much more than a remix EP (which it technically is - all of the tracks are based upon the same root, though one has to read an interview with the Autechre boys to find that out). But listening to the EP nine years after the fact changes that initial thought, and Envane can easily be understood as a single composition with four movements.

As individual singles, Envane can be rather boring. There's only subtle nuances as between the tracks, and a couple of Autechre EPs can completely fill one's necessity in life of their releases. But as a singular composition with four sepearate movements, Envane works. The EP ends up being more a pastoral orchestral piece (albeit an extremely modern pastoral piece, if skyscrapers can supply a sense of the pastoral) than four singles, and it becomes a lot more interesting an accomplishment. That's not to say Autechre is encroaching on Mike Oldfield territory, but it's getting close.

However, as much as Envane becomes a lot more interesting in that regard, there's still really no need to own much more than this EP or any other EP of Autechre's, unless the varying 1's and 0's of their binary compositions turn yr crank. Like Oval, one can call it quits on Autechre by buying one release: there's not much in the way of grand variation. While I'm all for Autechre's ability to supply millions of shades of gray, I'm much more interested in a little colour. IDM? I Don't Mind...but I don't need, either.

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