Long considered one of the holy grails of IDM, this album is in fact the debut album by both the Skam label and the duo who would become much better known as Autechre. This album was finally given a CD issue late last year, 20 years after the original vinyl, which included practically another album’s worth of unreleased material from the same period. Now this deluxe edition has been released on double vinyl as well.
I must preface this by saying that while Autechre have a rather cultlike following of slobbering fans, I am not one of them. I acknowledge them as a truly groundbreaking band, and there’s certain tracks by them which I deeply connect with, but a lot of their material I simply don’t engage with. I would even venture to say that there’s artists that can be considered Autechre copycats whose music I enjoy more. Having said all that, there’s simply no denying that far more often than not, Autechre has simply been on a much different level than anyone else. Listening to these early recordings, it’s almost impossible to believe that these came out in 1991. Obviously I wasn’t following underground dance music when I was eight years old, but it’s hard to think of much music from that era that was using drum machines and synths as this duo did on these recordings, especially all those skittery hi-hats and staccato synth melodies. The sound quality is very lo-fi and all four sides of vinyl are presented uninterrupted without track breaks, so it has the feeling of an audio scrapbook of a couple kids experimenting and screwing around with machines in their basement, just trying to come up with the weirdest sounds imaginable. There’s some hip-hop breaks and some acid squiggles, and even a submerged Talk Talk sample, but it all ends up sounding completely original. And unlike some of Autechre’s later material, it all stays fresh and fun and exciting and never goes off the deep end into eggheaded tedium. Truly an essential listen.