Ok, so picture the best gig you’ve ever been to. Actually, picture 'any' gig you’ve 'ever' been to. Try to visualise the lights, the movement or that sexy person next to you because last night (20 June) you couldn’t do any of that.
Autechre had the venue in total darkness throughout the entirety of their set. Even the bars were shut. Perhaps to offer a completely introspective experience, it was as if your eyes were closed and the room was your brain experiencing the oddities of Autechre.
I’ve never realised how much I depended on visual aid while attending live music. Initially I was very uncomfortable. My mind was struggling to grasp a sensory handle. There was no discernible or ‘usual’ beat for long periods of time, nor was there much to look at other than the swaying bodies around me.
It was intense though super interesting. Eventually my shoulders relaxed and I started hearing the eccentricities of their abstract beats. I joined the crowd and immersed myself in the disorientating darkness.
If you aren’t affiliated with Autechre’s body of work, the duo is one of the crowning jewels on the infamous Warp Record label. A status they share with the likes of Aphex Twin and Flying Lotus.
Their set last night was a masterclass in audio originality. It spanned from the euphoric to anxiety-inducing distortion and tweaks. Although highly experimental, there were elements of glitch and dub in the rhythms, but I felt it working more on a mood level.
For me it was more of an artistic soundscape. Genre-less if you will (tweaks moustache).
Autechre are definitely out of left field. So it was only fitting they attracted a niche audience. As the lights went out the respect for Autechre’s artistry was admirable. All phones were pocketed and a silence fell over the crowd as the duo started up.
Those that didn’t abide were shot glances or quickly, though politely, hushed by neighbouring attendees. There was a real sense of community and it was fantastic to see.
Throughout the show, there were moments of crowd eruption when a certain glitch would rattle the speakers or the cacophony would come to a head. There were people trying really hard to dance, but it was all just a little too experimental.
About an hour in I couldn’t help but imagine a huge 4/4 Ben Clock-esque techno beat dropping and everyone loosing their minds while a strobe kicked off. It would have been the biggest build-up ever, but alas it did not happen. Instead, everyone swayed gently to the flowing electronic score.
I wish I had the analytical ability to express the specifics of what they were doing, but sadly I don’t, and to be honest I don’t think many could. The timing was beyond comprehension and the percussive elements were incredibly complex. It was more of a strap yourself in and take what was thrown at you, kind of deal.
Regardless it was really cool; mind-bending, but cool.
A techno enthusiast since 14 I can still picture my Mum saying: “How can you listen to this crap?” when I’d play my iTunes library on the home computer. Well, if you’d been there last night Mum you would have thought I’d lost my mind.