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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Autechre: Dark Music In The Dark

posted by on April 8 at 14:00 PM

Rob Hall is back there somewhere.

Unlike the mis-named house sub-genre, Autechre’s drum machine workout last night at Neumos was true fidget music, initially causing the audience to nervously shift on the balls of their feet, eventually inspiring pockets of dancing.

Starting off the night were sets from Massonix, one half of 808 State, and Rob Hall. Massonix was decidedly awful, both directionless and otherwise uninteresting. There were a few moments early in his set when he accented his laptop’s output with synth, guitar, and horn flourishes where it seemed like it was going somewhere, but the only resulting movement was me into Moe Bar for Outsourced. Rob Hall’s sets throughout the night were much better, although it seemed like much of the audience couldn’t tell he was even on stage since he was so far stage left in the dark. If you haven’t been following his mix series, it’s time to catch up with this final installment. His dark selection was perfect for the room, even without much enthusiasm from either the audience or Hall himself.

Autechre’s set was executed with military precision. They came on-stage promptly at midnight playing for exactly an hour in almost total darkness (on the floor anyway, the mezzanine was completely lit), moving from more experimental exercises in beat dynamicism early into more accessible material as they progressed from frenetic IDM into more electro/glitch-hop territory. For me the set worked best from the mezzanine, where I was able to focus solely on the music instead of trying to get a peek at what the duo on-stage was doing (there was nothing to see save for a few blinking lights and knob-twiddling), or jostling with the people below. There’s no shortage of electronic live acts completely lacking in stage presence, but they don’t have the luxury of directing their listener’s attention through a combination of sensory deprivation (the darkness) and overload (the loud yet clear sound - props to whoever was working the boards). Other reviews left me expecting an early exodus from those caught off-guard by the non-existent visuals, but it never happened, with the nearly sold-out venue staying full until the end of Autechre’s set, with most missing out on Rob Hall’s close.

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