Those who know this album are probably not surprised that I’m writing about it, since I took the domain name for this site from the title of track one. Autechre were for a long time my favorite band, their Confield being the first album I really independently liked. As I am now intimately familiar with almost their entire discography (and their work as Gescom), I think I’ve come to the final conclusion that LP5, their untitled fifth album, is their high point. While I haven’t heard this album as many times as I’ve heard some others, I think this is probably my all-time most listened album, and it continues to be great.
Like I said with the Aphex Twin post yesterday, basically everyone should listen to this album, in part because it is massively influential. Even Radiohead has said (I think, somewhere, maybe) that they basically ripped off this album and added vocals to it for most of Kid A and Amnesiac. And you can directly blame this album for bullcrap like “The Gloaming”. The thing that makes Autechre (and Aphex) so special, though, is that no one can successfully imitate them, though now lots of things sound a little like them.
Unfortunately, I’m not going to even attempt to say what the music here sounds like. It’s not easily describable—none of these pieces have traditional song structures, none of them have vocals at all (minus “is it washable?” in “Under BOAC”), rarely is there a “beat” that stays unchanged for any length of time. At the same time, it’s not drone or ambient or any kind of “true experimental” music. The best I can do is call it “sound sculpture” (as ever since I saw the video for “Gantz Graf” that is always in my head for any Ae), or to say that it is the definition of IDM. Not Squarepusher-style let’s-call-this-drum-n-bass-something-else IDM, but actually an attempt to fuse dance music (though they’d kind of dropped that influence by LP5) and more avant-garde material. And this is before the advent of glitch.
Still, though, I’ll mention that “acroyear2″, “fold4,wrap5″, “Arch Carrier”, and “drane2″ are among the best songs I’ve ever heard. “fold4,wrap5″ is achingly beautiful, I am tempted to put “Arch Carrier” in every DJ set I do (but never do it), and “acroyear2″ and “drane2″ are both utterly interesting. It’s overdone but completely accurate to say that “drane2″ is ball bearings dropping on guitar strings. “Under BOAC” sounds like an in-development version of “Maphive 6.1″ from EP7 with its fantastic enormous metal air-vent-sized bendy-straw percussion, “Corc” is wistful and lazy, and “Rae” is so good (check the amazing tempo change) it should almost be included in the list above.
As I said, I rarely hear LP5 because I’ve had it for forever now and I’m always trying to hear new things, and it doesn’t really mix with anything else. But, every once in a while, I’ll put it on and just lie back and listen. And those nights invariably end six hours later with the sky turning blue again, after I’ve heard everything they’ve done yet another time and remembered how good a choice I made when Autechre became my first favorite band.