Autechre – AE_LIVE (2015)


Article by Lance Viggiano

Autechre began their lifecycle inspired by Kraftwerk’s robot-pop composed of complex layers of simple motifs transformed into dialogues in which each layer of sound appeared to be communicating with each other, resulting in intricate music that often sounded emotionally distant yet alluring and rewarding. This approach has been refined through later work by removing the individuality of each motif, stripping it of meaning and self-purpose; and instead crafting living wholes out of simplistic cells. With the AE_LIVE release, Autechre present a novel concept that was originally released as a four-part series and since has been expanded to nine separate compositions averaging around an hour each. For the sake of sanity and brevity, this review will focus on the original four performances.

Each performance is procession of distinct tracks whose form and aesthetic are pre-composed. The basic structure and sonic palette unfold in a live setting through improvisation resulting in a collection of compositions which are distinct but unified. The thing-in-itself is inaccessible and can only be approached through a variety of perspectives. Autechre manifest the underlying urge of each track through indeterminate duration, rhythmic and harmonic variance. The compositions contain no narrative arcs which may frustrate the listener however life itself is equally devoid of historical arcs, shapes of time, purpose, and rationality. If we can abstract a theme out of each manifestation it is the inner and outer turmoil of living a human life. The subject-object relationship to this work is different between listeners, therefore the meaning of the art is subject to variety since we do not have access to the inner contents.

1. AE_LIVE_KRAKOW_200914

Man’s primal, aggressive, and marauding nature is the subject of this composition. This experience is the most immediate of the original four and simplest to grasp for those used to musical tour de force. Exuberant synth erupttions are followed by moments of hesitation through cascading bass creating an abstract representation of threat, uncertainty, and sudden response. The rhythms often invoke a steady elevated heartbeat over which sharp patterns clash and dissolve. Autechre explore their early dialectic style in the compositions coda but instead of a conversational tone, invoke a confrontational quality. Elements compete with one another, increasingly at odds and less integrated as the whole piece winds down into an uncertain and exhausted conclusion.


The most dance and groove oriented take is predominantly physical in nature. The focus is on the body and its motion. Autechre push the limits of danceable rhythm which in turn challenges the body to remain in step with the ever-shifting cadence of life.


The most sparse and introspective variation. Track transitions are less abrupt while the whole retains more interdependence than the other pieces fitting for a contemplative journey. Autechre sort their mental contents in a relaxed meter. However, the character of the patterns are no less tumultuous and bombastic than the others.

4. AE_LIVE_DUBLIN_191214

External and visceral. Washes of ambience linger in the background giving off an impression of a subject traversing a landscape. This contains the most abrupt and forced transitions. A lack of fluidity is reminiscent of the rush of chaotic and divided sensory imagery washes over listeners who find themselves in unfamiliar places, isolated, without familiarity or a rational center.

AE_LIVE may be purchased from the AE_STORE

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24 thoughts on “Autechre – AE_LIVE (2015)”

  1. vOddy says:

    “Intelligent dance music”

    That’s a first for me. I just became a less prejudiced human.

    1. LifeAfirmingExistentialist says:

      In the article below, Sean of Autechre states an interesting British value regarding how they view aspects of marketing. “The term ‘intelligent dance music’ is a purely American invention; Brits would never self-promote that way—it’s kind of obscene to us.”

  2. vOddy says:

    Also, the description of Kraftwerk sounds appealing. I might try to listen to that band.

    1. Vigilance says:

      The two albums to start with listen are Amber and TriRepeate++. The former is melodic, ambient and emotionally stirring. The latter is harmonic, symphonic, and ornate though less touching.

      1. discodjango says:

        I think their debut “Incunabula” is an excellent starting point. It is their most ‘easy to listen to’ album.

        1. Vigilance says:


          Hessia was not built upon easy listening.

          1. discodjango says:

            Jawohl, mein Kommandant! Ich gelobe Besserung, mein Kommandant!

          2. discodjango says:

            Joke aside. What I meant was that for someone new to the genre and getting into complex stuff like Autechre it may be better to start with the relatively ‘easy’ “Incunabula”. “Most ‘easy to listen to'” doesn’t have to be “easy listening”.

        2. hypocrite says:

          I started with Cichli and I’d recommend that others do the same. It’s a beautiful album.

          1. Vigilance says:

            Cichli suite? I think the envane – cichli – chiastic slide period represents some of their most realized work.

            1. hypocrite says:

              Actually I was talking about Chiastic Slide. I confused the two as Cichli is one of my favorite tracks.

  3. Deport All Hipsters says:

    Nice to see this kind of review here.

    1. LifeAfirmingExistentialist says:

      I agree, without anus, I would have never learning to appreciate Autechre. I really like this notion, “If we can abstract a theme out of each manifestation it is the inner and outer turmoil of living a human life”. Autechre’s music seems to express the variety of information bombarded to us in this age of technology.

  4. David Rosales says:

    Who let this through?

    It’s not about some alienated young men pretending to be ancient Greeks or Teutonic Knights?

    1. vOddy says:

      Nor old Norse folk, nor Celts.

    2. Vigilance says:

      Standards have lapsed as this clearly isn’t music by a True Warrior of Capitalized Pronouns playing diablo I’s soundtrack to his cargo pants burzum shirt and combat boots.

      1. Crow says:

        Don’t you even put the word ‘Burzum’ in a joke. That is so Jewish of you.

        1. Wild says:

          Varg receives pure visions of Reality. He knows to

          Love the
          Beautiful &

          Personality Cult Eternal

          1. fff says:

            As a pansexual Vargkin I propose we hold a new slashfic contest in honor of this legendary man.

  5. Brett Stevens says:

    Lance: Let me just say it has been a pleasure watching you grow both as a writer and as a person, and I’m glad that I’ve had the privilege of being part of that process. There is nothing you can’t achieve if you keep believing in yourself, and that goes for all of you! I see incredible potential in each and every one of the commenters, and if we work together, we can all do our share in making the world a better place!

  6. Smoking_Gnu says:

    For those who are interested, Autechre released another five soundboards after the first set of four reviewed here – Krems, Nagano, Grafenhainichen, Dour and Katowice. I’d recommend Nagano, as it retains the sparse and introspective sound noted in Utrecht while also having a remarkably clear production.

  7. fenrir says:

    This stuff is great.
    Will be listening to it.

  8. Count ringworm says:

    IDM may be a pretentious term but the music has genuine value.

    Autechre have been a favorite of mine for some time.

    Aphex Twin next?

    1. Count ringworm says:

      I recommend Second Bad Vibel

      Any version.

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