The ground covered by Autechre to date has brought to the fore a signature form of electronica, relying on subtlety and interlaced patterninga sort of drum-n-bass for contemplation and meditation. Confield takes this platform of starkly sculpted beats and plies an insidious, self-conscious contrariness into the works. Whether that be relentless detail, Aphex Twin-like beat perversion, or otherworldly processed tones inserted into the mix, this disc stands up and calls for attention.
"Pen expers" makes a distinct foray into drill-n-bass with an architecture of ever shifting foreground beats and in-and-out counterpoint with fuzzy breaches of sound. "Sim ajshel" pulls a page from the dub notebook, with frizzy scratchy and twinkly noises piled on top of a bass-driven wagon. Other tracks experiment with skipping, lurching noises; incredibly dense pointillism; and high-octave ringing (serious headphone material).
Somehow, despite all this chicanery, Autechre manage to keep the detail from becoming the main. That means each piece has an intriguing, moving character that draws attention yet satisfies on a higher level. Confield represents a major departure and a solid advance for this ever-inventive duo: a must-listen for fans of experimental electronica, a masterpiece for the archives of history, and a solid top-ten pick for 2001.
VI scose poise; cfern; pen expers; sim ajshel; parhelic triangle; bine; eidetic casein; uviol; lentic catachresis.
Composed, performed, and produced by Autechre (Sean Booth and Rob Brown).
Record Label: Warp