Autechre / AMBER
For its second full-length record, Amber, Autechre mines the techno, ambient, and house genres of music and emerge with the finest record of the early part of its career. Largely structured on sweeping atmospherics (courtesy of synthesizer, naturally), the tracks here are fleshed out with twittering electric squelches, mid-tempo synthetic percussion, and the extremely complex usage of echoes. Foil suggests a slowed-down, steamtrain entering an expanding station. Montreal is a six-minute conversation between honey-covered metal crickets set to a mid-tempo dance beat. Slip is a stately keyboard-driven affair that could be from an Ultravox record, except that it is underscored with a bubbling beat and electronically modified squeak toys. A series of drips set the tempo for Further, which eventually evolves, over 10 minutes, into something that recalls Vangelis’s score for Blade Runner, complete with distant thunder. And the brittle, shimmering Nil evokes contradictory thoughts of huge, empty spaces and warm, enclosed, brightly lit ones.
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