Jan 27, 2010

Autechre's Oversteps: fake leak scandal and a cellarful of gibbons

(Edit: see the comments on this post for a link to the real Autechre leak. Meanwhile, read about the February 2010 release of the album here.)

For a few giddy moments last night, I held in my hairy hands Autechre's glistening new album, Oversteps.

I wrote a brilliant review which described the album as a meistewerk: surprising, disorientating, devastating and effective. My writing was so brilliant, Shakespeare would have drooled on his ruff.

And yet, one of my hundred gibbon researchers leant close to me later in the evening and said, "Fats, it's a fake. The album leak is a fake."

I was devastated. I punched him hard in the face and sent him to back to his damp cellar without a banana.

Deflating balloon farts

Oh how the review trilled. I spoke of chiming frequency modulation, a playful whirr of whistles and bleeps like a pissed-up R2D2, ambient interludes effusing cold isolation and creeping horror, staccato hits that sounded like lip smacking or a deflating balloon fart.

It turns out the album, discovered by many people on file-sharing site Soulseek, was the eponymous debut by Altered:Carbon and was set for release on February 7th. The band are relative unknowns and, yes, they do sound a bit like Autechre.

To my shame, I went from caning the album on my gramophone to being no longer interested. I careered from simpering love to cold indifference. Just because it was no longer Manchester's finest electronic music duo.

Why? It's a storming old-school techno album full of analogue fatness and eerie four-chord melodies. Was it cheapened because it wasn't Autechre? Do I trade off names so easily? Why does my mind work like that?


The clues were there. This was the sound of not-Autechre having fun in the studio, which seemed out of character. It was a move by not-Autechre towards solid beats and structure rather than difficult algorithms, which should have set alarm bells hooting.

But the biggest clue was in this not-Autechre album feeling much more part of a wider musical landscape than the usual, isolationist Autechre beloved of purists: a synth chime borrowed from In Sides-era Orbital; Windowlicker drum stabs; more than a brace of head-nods to Plaid.

If Altered:Carbon deliberately leaked the album pretending to be Autechre, they are reprehensible and should be sent into the corner of electronica.

Knock-down ginger

But I suspect it was some wag playing the online version of knock-down ginger to tease uber-earnest techno fans. I hope a new band gets a splatterful of extra listeners through this bizarre publicity.

Unless, of course, Altered:Carbon are Autechre in disguise. Ooooh, my head hurts. I leave this blog post saddened at my own fickleness. I'm off downstairs to shoot all the gibbons.

Get Altered:Carbon via creative commons label Section 27 when it comes out. Meanwhile, the best way of hearing Autechre's Oversteps is is by pre-ordering it now. While you're at it, read my other Autechre writings.

(Thanks to Rob for making this post possible in a way I didn't quite expect.)

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