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Album Review

Although Autechre's debut release doesn't totally display the full experimentation which would dominate their future albums and singles, it is still striking nonetheless, as proof that the early comparisons to fellow Sheffield denizens Cabaret Voltaire weren't just misguided hype. Lumped in with the "intelligent dance music" semi-genre popular at the time, Autechre doesn't hit the same levels as Orbital or labelmate Aphex Twin, but Incunabula still stands out as being both good dancefloor material and equally pleasant listening, and not simply new-age hash with a backbeat. "Kalpol Introl" sets the overall mood for the rest of the record, with a sharp blend of minimal but effective beats and bass combined with a variety of keyboard textures and understated melodies. "Bike" ratchets the pace even more, reliant on crisp drum-machine patterns and careful arrangements to create something equally at home either in Detroit or on the autobahn. From there Incunabula follows the same general tone; tracks often experiment with ghostly keyboard backing and mostly clinical beats combined with odd, individual touches. Notable examples of this are the quirky organ sounds and vocal fragments on "Autriche" and the warning siren keyboards matched with notably more slamming percussion on "Doctrine." "Basscadet" is the album's undisputed winner at combining avant-garde touches with club underpinnings, armed with a sparkling, clanging, mid-song break and a relentless, mechanistic rhythm not a million miles away from the contemporaneous work of Seefeel, who remixed the track for a single release shortly thereafter. Despite the relative sameness in the basic arrangements of tracks covering the better portion of the album — a few song subtractions wouldn't have hurt the 75-minute length any — Incunabula still stands out as a better effort than many other U.K. techno albums of the early '90s.


Formed: 1987 in Rochdale, Lancashire, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Like Aphex Twin, Autechre were about as close to being experimental techno superstars as the tenets of their genre and the limitations of their audience allowed. Through a series of full-length works and a smattering of EPs on Warp, Clear, and their own Skam label, Autechre consistently garnered the praise of press and public alike. Unlike many of their more club-bound colleagues, however, Autechre's Sean Booth and Rob Brown had roots planted firmly in American electro, and though the more mood-based,...
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Incunabula, Autechre
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