Autechre Sydney Gig Review

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update: My friend Jim has also written an excellent review of this gig at Feral Kid.

Having missed them when they last toured Australia in the mid-90s because they only played Melbourne, I leapt at the chance to go to Autechre’s Sydney show last night.

First it must be said the sound at The Forum was gorgeous. Siesmic sub-bass penetrated everything like a layer of warm oil. The jarring cracks and clean surfaces of white noise were rendered pristine with every colour of the spectrum. It absolutely pumped.

The crowd was laced with computer geeks and various nerds perched in the mezzanine perfectly positioned to drool on the galaxy of equipment arrayed on stage.

Rob Hall‘s support set ranged wide and deep across electronic dance genres without fear of making a few sharp turns and I thought it was underappreciated by a crowd that, among other things included a guy with a Frankie Goes to Hollywood T-Shirt reading a slim volume of the writings of 19th Century German Philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. I kid you not. For those who came only to hear Autechre and nothing else, the start time was after midnight.

Finally the English duo came on and remained virtually immobile on an almost dark stage for about 90 minutes. The sound, however was dynamic and bold. The emphasis was on percussive programmed breaks with signature subtlety and a hybrid vibe of mechanistic and organic structure. There wasn’t much of their ambient scapes to be heard, but there was a cavernous orchestral resonance in the sound. The groove was always there on a very laid back, downbeat substrate which they exposed at regular intervals, breaking it down perhaps to reorient those of us who had folllowed the hairy dendrites of noise far from the basic hip-hop chassis.

Here’s something I captured during the set, in brief:

It’s like Satan got a drum machine
and broke into the cathedral.
In the blackness,
A trancendental financial transaction.
Backed up on a warped tape.
Beats so fat it makes you laugh.
Rude I heard say. Rude beats.
I can smell freshly cut timber
in my eardrums.
Fucking awesome.

It seems difficult to nail down Autechre with words or pictures and I think they like it that way.

8 Comments on “Autechre Sydney Gig Review”

  1. 1 roscoe said at 6:33 am on May 29th, 2010:

    Are you kidding?? The acoustics were TERRIBLE in that place.
    And seriously, Uber Nerds, if you’re not going to dance, GET OFF THE F*CKING DANCE FLOOR!!
    Love Autechre, but the IDM crowd seriously SUCK ARSE. Do us a favour and stay at home next time guys….

  2. 2 unread pages said at 11:57 pm on May 29th, 2010:

    Autechre play in total darkness on the stage so I had this idea that behind the two little pilot lights there was some great alien creature sitting up there with waving tentacles making that amazing noise. That music is not from this planet man!
    The rhythms sound like algorithmic calculations (they probably are), and even the textures and timbres of the percussive sounds vary along with the rhythms. And no-one comes close to Autechre when it comes to creating a sense of dimension and separation between their sounds. You feel like you are hearing sliding steel machinery somewhere on the other side of the galaxy.
    I immensely admired their records but live adds a new dimension. I found myself breaking into laughter and shaking my head at the extraordinary stuff I was hearing. I couldn’t imagine wtf those two guys were actually doing up there with their equipment.
    I was one of the ones who was just there to hear Autechre and without wishing to diss anyone, I could have done without at least the second of the preceding 2-hour DJ sets which to me me seemed to be in a very different space from the headliners (no it wasn’t me reading Schopenhauer). An artist like Autechre has enough stature and breadth of appeal to be presented in a more featured way.

  3. 3 Christo said at 6:46 pm on May 30th, 2010:

    No the sound was good. I’m right you’re wrong 🙂

    But I agree about the non dancing. I was tearing it up. I was the nerd in the pacman t-shirt

  4. 4 Christo said at 6:49 pm on May 30th, 2010:

    On the algorithmic thing.. apparently they did put a lot of generative production into Confield I think it was and people (me among them) thought that was a much weaker album. I think the appeal of Autechre is that there is a lot of humanity to it. It’s not like they care more about the production process than the end result.

  5. 5 boz original said at 1:29 am on June 1st, 2010:

    Autechre ripped it along with rob data.
    like being stuck in a hurricane.
    The only probs was no extacy for me to purchase from the very nerdy crowd.
    much love to the cpl who gave us a lift back to the city.
    Autechre were worth the trip from adelaide

  6. 6 Jim said at 5:06 pm on June 3rd, 2010:

    I dig the review Chris. I mentioned you and our philosophical friend on the dance floor, and linked it on my page.
    I like unread pages’ comments too.
    Here’s my review:

  7. 7 lostintranslation said at 4:58 am on February 15th, 2011:

    it was very good sound quality and i even have a recording to prove it. but i do agree with the crowd aspect, there was only five people moving (me included), everyone else stood there like zombies and made a poor effort, if any, to applaud them when they finished. oh and christo, i think i was standing behind you, i was the guy who was lying down in the middle of the floor before the show started 🙂

  8. 8 Christo said at 2:48 am on March 21st, 2011:

    haha I think I remember you lying down there!

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