Oversteps (Warp, 02.2010)
For: Aphex Twin, Kid 606, Coil
Byline: After more than two decades Rob Brown and Sean Booth are still tinkering with the concept of being “electronic artists”. Their 10th album finds them leaning towards warmer, more human tones with mostly thrilling results. Originally published on www.inyourspeakers.com. Published with permission by inyourspeakers, LLC.
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...Beats on Oversteps have their place in recognizable musical patterns before they are dissected, put through a washing machine of delays and tempo changes, and spit out the other side. Rhythms range from the tight-fisted two-step of the album opener to oriental gamelan clank-and-clatter of “known-1,” to ambient beatless synth-scapes on “see on see.” The beats do, however, do follow some prescribed musical expectations. The rearview-mirror-shaking bass devastates the lowest frequencies with fuzz on the cracked, hip-hop inspired “Treale.” One of their more inviting numbers “d-sho qub” replaces heavy synth washes with sampled vocal loops over an 8-bit melodic line in the almost tropical sounding dub.
There are moments when Oversteps actually sounds like a battleground where human musical statements are stymied by a sense of non-linear editing. Synth- lines are cut short before they reach their climax on “r ess,” the melody on “known-1” is punched full of holes, siphoned through a tiny sieve, picked apart, displaced and then resurrected as a Frankenstein’s Monster of barely recognizable snippets and discarded odds-and-ends. With moves this meticulous, it is difficult to imagine computers possessing this level of aesthetic awareness or the obvious joy of discovery that Brown and Booth geek out over.
Oversteps, for all of its seemingly aleatory elements, is still very much programmed, directed, even played by two human beings. Who knows when Autechre is going to run their course, but after another two decades of making music we may be able to look back to Oversteps as a cumulative statement in which the term “electronic artist” actually made sense.
Actually, skip my review, just watch this dude.