Autechre have unleashed an angry spine of sonic monoliths protruding in myriads of grey, ghostly noirs and blackest blacks. Prepare yourself to never return from these mutant topographies.
‘Exai’ seethes over eight sides of vinyl and it is by far their darkest and most generative work for some time. Sean Booth and Rob Brown harness algorithmic programming to generate this stark and uncompromising landscape, and as much as ever their human souls are melting into their furious machines.
This decaying trail away from humanity is undertaken first via their opener ‘Fleure’; a rabid and frenetic compression of dark matter from which little light or conventional rhythm escapes. From here the other sixteen tracks range further and deeper than anything on their last LP (the moderate opus of ‘Oversteps’) as we are drawn down into their swirling eddies of blistered texture.
With four cuts nimbly toying with ten-minute expansions Autechre develop their forays into progressive narratives, that shape shift entirely. ‘Irlite (Get 0)’, ‘Recks On’ and ‘Bladelores’ all slink along before haemorrhaging their form almost entirely and assume new black mantels.
‘Exai’ is a dense cloud of ideas and brooding musings from which very little can be yielded in daylight. Pitch black playbacks or a heavy dose of ketamine immeasurably opens up their angled compositions and with a daytime listening diet we expect it to make sense of the rest of ‘Exai’ in about twenty-six more days.
As their old school hip-hop aesthetic collides with altered state programming the listener will be baffled and offended by these decayed structures, but as a body of music ‘Exai’ lividly pulses, possessed by a half-life of disturbing magnitude.
Words by MATTHEW BENNETT