Autechre – elseq 1–5 (2016)

Article by Lance Viggiano.

Autechre‘s elseq 1-5 is a four hour anthology consisting of five individual EPs, each compiled together loosely upon conceptual coherence between the constituent tracks. elseq 1-5 is an exercise in release format rather than just content; the artists behind Autechre seek to utilize the immediacy of the digital age, releasing tracks “as they go” without traditional limitations imposed by the “album.” Granted of course this collection appeared as a hulking and impenetrable dump rather than a sequence. This point bears worth remembering as this overview proceeds as the temptation to view elseq 1-5 as a complete work, or works, is ingrained in popular habits.

Each track is comprised of non-repeating linear progressions pushing onward nearly without melody while advancing timbre, rhythm and space. The contrasting voices bubble and surge, causing the music to take on a character more equitable to shape and structure than human emotion in the abstract. While the songs as wholes unfold via generative programming, the actual compositions are driven by conditional logic packets created by Autechre. Thus one finds a marriage of intentionality with the near improvisational aspect afforded by computerization whose offspring share in a distinct lineage.

The result draws from the artists’ discography as they’ve written decades of experience into the building of long form narratives. It is difficult to pinpoint an overarching subgenre within which elseq 1-5 may be categorized. Ambient music is as likely to develop into blistering Drum and Bass as it is to linger in deliberate minimalism before destroying itself not unlike their watershed Draft 7.30; that album’s chief concept was in taking fully complete songs and tearing them apart piece by piece. Here on elseq 1-5, there is a unity to the creation and deconstruction where elements seem to fall out of favor but have merely mutated while falling into background importance. Impermanence is perhaps an unintentional concept that finds its way onto these tracks.

As noted early, the use of space is an emphasized aspect of this music which in a way fulfills the predominant western weltanschauung as the infinite expansion into said. The stage of these tracks are filled with sounds near to the listener and at a distance which creates the impression of a vast expanse whose endpoint is merely the artifact of the limitations of human senses. This is most evident on the spherical liquidity of “c7b2.” The track “freulaeux” is constructed over four to the floor acid techno whose throbbing pulse is subjugated by airy chords lending to a synaptic rather than somatic waltz. “acdwn2” by contrast is heavily dependent upon helical pillars of rhythm which rise and fall to the ebbing waves of a primordial, haunting chorus. Within that world the strange speech of contorting lifeforms comes through only as lines of vibrating static which crinkle and crack as if they we are witnessing their birth and death occurring in mere instants. Next “spaces how V” places sound at different spatial locations with a rhythm patterns being played above the center plane out of which synth transmissions arise beneath, swelling upward and cast out horizontally into the void. Other tracks “foldfree casual,” “pendulu hv moda,” and “eastre” deserve special mention as the most viscerally emotive tracks who deserve their own lengthy delineations.

Package three and five are the most ambient with five chiefly focused upon stark minimalism over three’s more full and lush explorations. Four is perhaps the best purchase for the metal audience as it is the most extraverted, energetic and forward moving of the bunch. One and two are more enigmatic by displaying the most abstract and confrontational material. It is difficult to ascertain who the second selection is more at odds with: itself or the listener. The approach taken to create this vast collection of music does not always produce aesthetic value but Autechre do manage to produce a hand-full of their greatest tracks.

As can be intuited by the preceding sketches, Autechre craft individual worlds which slowly change as the life within adapts to pressures exerted by itself and its environment. Unlike other forms of narrative composition, these tracks are not marked by dramatic swings or logical conclusions. The run times are merely snapshots within a timeless unfolding. In a way this method of linear composition is not unlike the experience of human life which undergoes subtle changes from the day it is born to the day it dies, dying without reaching a true apex or climax of purpose – the greater story of the universe remains forever inaccessible. What is interesting is that the moment to moment experience of these tracks feels consistent in the same way we perceive our character to be persistent throughout our life. The changes become pronounced through recollection or dream where the chapters of the story are view out of sequence revealing changes and contrasts more clearly. This becomes clear when skipping to various points in each song to deny suspicions of stagnation.

Listeners are free to compile the work in an order they feel appropriate or simply dive in to any singular track at will without doing a disservice to the artists’ intent nor the music itself. elseq 1-5 is a sacrilegious not only in terms of offending the sanctity of the cohesive album but also in the expectation that the listener is to engage emotionally with a progression of chords or notes. It does this by stressing other musical elements. Beyond such transgressive measures, Autechre have supplied work which rewards patient and attentive listening which is commendable if not sorely needed in our times.

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24 thoughts on “Autechre – elseq 1–5 (2016)”

  1. Nuclear Whore says:

    Interesting article, thanks. Any suggestion from the post-“Untitled” period? I stopped following them after that record.

    Personal favourites: EP7, Amber, Incunabula, Basscad and Draft

    1. Vigilance says:

      Post Untilted: Oversteps and Quaristice (versions) but those are a bit middling and only have a handful of worthwhile moments in my opinion.

      Exai is OK, AE_Live Dublin is wayyy better.

      1. Nuclear Whore says:

        Thank you. Yes, Quarstice is a bore. Will check that live actions, a kind of bootleg called “Autechre – 1993 – Live @ Birmingham 1993” is a nice thing to listen to.

        1. Nuclear Whore says:

          Please notice that I have written badly the names of two records (heh heh heh)

  2. better dead than funderground says:

    If Feed 1 is anything to go by, this is as bad as dubstep… but most Autechre is anyway.

    1. Vigilance says:

      I don’t like feed1 either. I was hoping to steer people away from it and others by naming the good ones. Either way I don’t think you have a good grasp on this music which is fine.

      1. shove the dove says:

        man metalheads who only like the token idm picks (and maybe some other safe rockist picks like Basic Channel and Kraftwerk) really have no place to talk about electronic music cred

        1. Vigilance says:

          So I’ll list some stuff I like, you’ll list some stuff you like and we’ll meet at the flag pole after school to find out who is the most elite before the varsity kids give us wedgies.

          1. Varg Overreacts to Big Cat Cock says:

            The less-elite guy can bury his face in the other guy’s buttcrak.

        2. Syphils says:

          Only synthpop is real.

  3. Rainer Weikusat says:


    As this seems like another collection of “electronic noises”, I didn’t listen to it (don’t mind this at public events but don’t want it in private).

    1. Vigilance says:

      But you’ll listen to a third rate punk band at home?

      1. Rainer Weikusat says:

        I don’t really listen to any punk anymore as that was more of an acquired disease. Extremely simplified, ‘punk’ is music for girls and people who like to chase them and these ‘sunlit uplands’ are quite distant from the world I find myself living in. I keep a few punk records around, though, as they were important to my at various times of my life, this one being one of them, and I’d dispute this value judgement. OTOH, considering what I do listen to[*], I should probably take “3rd rate” instead of “younameitcore” (OTOH, how does one do that with a hardcore band?) as compliment :->.

        But that’s besides the point. I quoted the song because of the (ironic as that’s an intentionally simplified track) “We hate music and we love noise!” at the beginning: There’s a certain overlap between ‘[ambient] electronic music’ and ‘black metal’ but that’s mostly that several members of the old Norwegian scene were also very much in love with that. This is known for Oystein Asareth, Gylve Nagell and Varg Vikernes. The latter even once stated that he was frequenting ‘techno clubs’ in order to meet girls. But that’s rather accidental than inherent: Some people like the kind of music made with heavily distorted, electric guitars despite it’s common want of ‘melodies’ and ‘beauty’ and are less fond to openly opposed to ‘100% electronic bricolage’.

        In addition to the sound, there’s also a creative aspect: A real instrument limits what kinds of sounds can be achieved with it based on its properties and the capabilities of the performer. This means people have to be ‘creative’ in order to come up with something which sounds good within the limits of the environment. That’s not the case for entirely electronically produced music: In principle, all current urges of someone creating something can be satisfied with no effort at a fingertip. Want a girls-choir singing in bass and backwards? Here you go. This lends itself to gimmickiness.

        1. Vigilance says:

          I think something inside of you died leaving only the calcified remains of a human soul. I don’t agree with the conclusions drawn in the last paragraph not the least of which because your idea of “instrument” here in relation to music is pretty ad hoc, desu.

          1. Rainer Weikusat says:

            I think something inside of you died leaving only the calcified remains of a human soul.

            People tend to find exaggerated variants of their own personality deficits in others.

            1. Rainer Weikusat says:

              Addition: This tactic (say nasty things about the person making a statement in order to deflect from it) is so ancient that even Schopenhauer already wrote about it. Cf p. 38 of


              my statement being just as pointless as the one I was replying to.

              1. H.R Mane says:

                Same old story. A writer takes the effort to do an honest review/reflection on something interesting but rather than let it stimulate thought, select autists among the userbase begin moaning about their intellectual comfort zones beings threatened while at the same time trying to disguise this sensitivity by projecting it onto others, and (un)ironically claiming the reverse. You should realise that this sort of approach gets us nowhere Rainer. There was no need for an essay littered with ‘objective facts’ to try and prove or disprove what is largely personal taste at the end of the day. You should try to keep your comments more constructive.

                1. Roger says:

                  “There was no need for an essay littered with ‘objective facts’ to try and prove or disprove what is largely personal taste at the end of the day.”

                  Then what of some of the reviewers, particularly the clinically depressed Maraat?

              2. Vigilance says:

                Rainer, if you are going to say I’m projecting when I call you a husk of a human being, please don’t immediately make my case for me by posting some dead trust fund hipster’s overwrought horseshit. I’m sure you aren’t overrun by cataracts and arthritis yet so what the hell are you doing reading this shit?

          2. Syphilis says:

            I think he is just being typically German.

        2. Roger says:

          I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:

    2. H.R Mane says:

      [Oh so you don’t like electronic music? It’s cool man, no worries…]


    Gravestone – Creating a monster (1986

    1. Johan P says:

      Killer artwork.

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