Review: Autechre - "Oversteps"
After my effusive reception of Auetchre's last album, 2008's Quaristice and the accompanying Quaristice (Versions) there was nothing that could have prepared me for their newest here, Oversteps. Not the last tour, not the various Quadrange EPs that followed, not the fifteen years of listening since the release of Amber back in the '90s. This new one came out of nowhere. By nowhere, I'm meaning a void-like space of an artist releasing a work that exhibits none of the skill, innovation, craftsmanship or artistry that they have established for themselves through the course of their own discography. This album is Autechre's first truly confounding work. Not confounding for its 'difficulty,' or its stylistic variations on what has come before it, or the sound palette or the compositional deviation from what we have come to expect. It's simply confounding for the evident lack of time, investment and artistry that they themselves have spent on fashioning it. This is made that much more 'confounding' for the fact that their last US tour of April 2008 exhibited a complexly nuanced, creatively hyper-attentive assembly of tracks that not only featured their signature sound-design and artistry, but also got the dance floor moving in delirious, hysterical and vertiginous ways. So the question then is, how could they craft an album which features none of the qualities so evident in their concerts and throughout their nearly twenty-year catalogue? That dear listener, is for you to puzzle out when listening to Oversteps. Pick up a copy of 2001's Confield or 2005's Untilted and contrast their newest here in a side-by-side listening session on headphones or a quality hi-fi and see if you don't come to the same conclusion yourself.